Tony Abbott may turn out to be the real deal. The newly elected conservative (Liberal) prime minister of Australia is coming out of the starting gate at a gallop, dismaying entrenched political interests along the way.
Abbott’s new cabinet will have no separate ministry for “climate change,” rolling that function instead into the ministry for environment (h/t: WUWT). Here’s Abbott on the role of the new minister for the environment, Greg Hunt (emphasis added):
“(Hunt) will have responsibility for the abolition of the carbon tax, implementation of the Coalition’s Direct Action plan, the establishment of the Green Army and the creation of a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals,” Abbott said in a statement.
Hey, it’s a start. When was the last time we, or Europe or Canada, abolished a tax?
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* Mr. Abbott will – “as soon as I return to Parliament House from the swearing-in ceremony” – instruct the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to prepare the carbon tax repeal legislation;
* Treasurer Joe Hockey, will instruct the board of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to suspend its operations and cease making payments;
* Treasury has been instructed to prepare legislation to permanently shut down the corporation.
Abbott has appointed Major General Angus Campbell to head his new government’s Operation Sovereign Borders campaign, a policy intended to gain control of Australia’s growing problem with, among other things, people smuggling via unauthorized boat arrivals from Indonesia. Campbell comes with an SAS background and has commanded an SAS task force in East Timor (2001-2) as well as commanding Australian forces in the Middle East in 2011-12.
Abbott calls border security “one of those stand or fall issues” – uncharacteristically categorical for a sitting politician, to say the least. Indonesia isn’t sure he means what he says yet.
We’ll see. Abbott has been unafraid to incur the wrath of professional malcontents in the ranks of feminism. Reportedly planning to put three women in cabinet positions, he is contenting himself with one for the moment (the foreign minister), as a second potential minister still fights for her seat in parliament, and a third has decided to accept the post of parliamentary Speaker. In other words, Abbott has been by no means discriminatory against the senior women in his coalition. But he is ignoring the japes of critics that there are now more women in Hamid Karzai’s cabinet than in Abbott’s.
In one of those humorous inversions for which the left is justly famous, columnist Heather Long of the UK Guardian lectures U.S. Republicans on how Abbott – a one-time seminarian with conservative views on social issues – “won over women.”
So how did Abbott get women to give him a second look? He promised to support a large extension of paid maternity leave.
In other words, Abbott promised to make the law more procreation- and motherhood-friendly. He promised to enshrine in law the principle that mothers need plenty of time at home with their newborn children.
Clearly, Abbott is not a “libertarian,” in the small-government sense of the word. A libertarian thinks government should refrain from dictating the terms of employment between employer and employee.
But in favoring an extension of maternity leave, he is hardly a social leftist either. Get back to us, Ms. Long, if Mr. Abbott starts “winning over women” by proposing to penalize marriage with the tax code, or make it harder rather than easier for mothers to care for their children at home while living on Dad’s salary.
I have a feeling the high ratio of websites complaining about Abbott’s “boys’ club sexism” will not change any time soon. In the results for a search just now on “tony abbott australia,” at least 50 percent of the websites returned in the first ten pages were focused on this theme.
Abbott has decided, to the dismay of some, to put the functions of the former ministry of science into the ministries of industry and education. You’d think he had signed a death warrant for Galileo, from the way some critics are taking on about it. It’s not clear yet what such a reorganization will mean, but the same functions will apparently be performed: the difference will be that they don’t have distinctive cabinet representation for interest groups to coalesce around.
That is a difference in the political dynamic; from where I sit, it looks like it lowers the profile of a self-appointed “science lobby” a priori. That’s not a bad thing. In any case, it’s why the gored ox is lowing.
As it lows in the tourism industry, which also will have to make do without its very own cabinet minister in the Abbott government.
Abbott plans to encourage foreign investment in Australia by lowering barriers to it. His energy policy will focus, at least initially, on boosting exports (e.g., uranium to India, among other things, like coal), but his government plans a comprehensive review of Australian energy policy in the first year. Again, hardly a libertarian approach.
But in the political climate of Western leftism, it’s different. The Abbott government proposes to move in the opposite direction from the path of governmentism’s surge over the last several decades.
It will be sworn in on Wednesday, 18 September 2013.