Poll: Abbott's approval stays low
The coalition's vote has partly recovered from post-budget lows, but people still don't think much of the budget - or the Prime Minister.PT3M58S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3amcc 620 349 June 22, 2014
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Support for Australia's carbon pricing laws has grown as the Abbott government prepares to repeal them next month, with more people now in favour than opposed.
An annual poll by the Climate Institute found the number of Australians who disagree with the laws fell to 30 per cent, down from 52 per cent in 2012 when the Coalition's attack on the carbon tax was at its peak. It also represents an 11 per cent decline in opposition from last year.
Changing perceptions: Opposition to Australia's carbon pricing laws has fallen significantly. Photo: Graham Tidy
At the same time the percentage of Australians who supported the carbon price rose six per cent, to 34 per cent, over the past year. It is the first rise in support under the Climate Institute poll since the laws were first introduced by the Gillard government.
But more people were indifferent than supportive or opposed, with 36 per cent of people saying they neither agreed nor disagreed with the laws.
The poll - carried out by JWS Research, which surveyed 1100 people online late last month - also found just 22 per cent of people supported the government's Direct Action scheme, which will replace the carbon tax.
Australians were also cynical of both major political parties when it came to climate change. Voters were particularly sceptical of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with only 20 per cent saying they believed him when he said he was concerned about action on climate change. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten performed only slightly better, with 31 per cent trusting his approach to climate change.
On Monday, Environment Minister Greg Hunt dismissed a call for a full Senate review of the carbon tax legislation as the Abbott government prepare to reintroduce the measures in Parliament.
Former federal Liberal leader John Hewson has urged the Abbott government to keep the carbon tax, saying the policy is working and now is not the time to shift the burden of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to taxpayers, The Australian Financial Review reports.
Joining forces with the Climate Institute for a ''Stop the Dinosaurs'' campaign, Dr Hewson, an economist, said the carbon tax was reducing emissions, not hurting the economy and the scare campaign by the Coalition and its supporters about the impact of the policy had proved baseless.
''From 2010 to 2012, Australians were subject to a historic scare campaign about the impacts of the carbon laws, but it is quite clear now that these laws are not a 'wrecking ball' or 'python squeeze','' he told The Australian Financial Review.
But Mr Hunt on Monday rejected Mr Hewson’s comments saying the Abbott government had a mandate to repeal the carbon tax.
''My understanding is that all of the new Senators come to the parliament with a platform of repealing the carbon tax. All existing Senators have already debated at length, and in detail, and through a Senate inquiry, repeal of the carbon tax. This is the most debated political issue of the last 10 years,'' he told ABC radio.
The Coalition will on Monday reintroduce its carbon tax repeal legislation into the parliament in readiness for a new, more conservative Senate that will come into effect on July 1.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his government was taking climate change seriously, pointing to his $2.5 billion direct action policy.
''What we're not going to do is clobber the economy with this great big tax,'' he told the Seven Network on Monday. ''And I say to the crossbench senators, if you want to save the families of Australia $550 a year there is a very easy way – scrap the carbon tax.''
In other results the polling found 61 per cent of people wanted Australia to be a global leader on solutions for climate change.
It comes as the independent Climate Change Authority said in a new research paper the international community expected Australia to present credible targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions after 2020 as part of the push to strike a historic new global deal on climate change.
In the paper, looking at what the new treaty could look like, the authority says if Australia led positively on targets and other issues it would enhance its influence in crafting the new agreement, which is due to be finalised at a meeting in Paris late next year, to come into effect from 2020.
Authority chairman and former Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser said Australia had played an active role at past international negotiations and ''as a wealthy developed country and a high per capita emitter of greenhouse gases, it will be expected to carry a fair share of the post-2020 emissions reductions''.
In its report the authority says given Australia's relative wealth and capacity it will be expected to produce an unconditional post-2020 target by April next year, as some countries were invited to do at United Nations climate negotiations in Warsaw last year.
In a previous report the Climate Change Authority - which the Abbott government plans to close - recommended Australia adopt a 40-60 per cent emissions cut on 2000 levels by 2030.
The Abbott government has so far committed to a five per cent cut in emissions from 2000 levels. A spokesman for Mr Hunt said the government would review the 2020 emissions target next year considering further action and targets on the basis of ''comparable real global action''.
The authority paper also warns insisting on a global agreement similar to the current Kyoto Protocol - a universal, prescriptive, enforcement-oriented legal agreement - would likely be counterproductive as it is not achievable in the short term.