Julie Bishop talks to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Coalition says the Environment Department will provide independent advice and analysis on climate change. Photo: Andrew Meares
The axing of the Climate Commission should be no surprise. Environment Minister Greg Hunt has long flagged that it would go if the Coalition was elected.
Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government.
The concern is whether the move is symbolic of a government that does not care about climate change.
After all, there are a lot of other climate bodies in its sights - the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation - not to mention the carbon price. It is tearing down more than it is putting up.
In a week, the world's leading climate science body - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - will hand down perhaps the most important document on global warming. The six-year assessment of the status of climate change - how fast it is occurring and what threat it poses - will be long and technical. It will be almost impossible for the average person to navigate.
Having institutions such as a Climate Commission to distil such complex and confusing information is critical for a functioning democracy. To quote Thomas Jefferson: ''Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government.''
The Coalition says it axed the commission as part of its plans to streamline the government. The Environment Department will continue to provide independent analysis and advice on climate change, it says.
Fair enough. It is the prerogative of a new government to organise the institutions at its behest in any way it sees fit.
But in removing the commission - which cost just $5 million over four years - the onus is now on the Abbott government to ensure its role is replicated elsewhere. Climate change might be complex, but it poses a significant danger to humanity. And the public should be well informed, not misinformed.
Here's hoping that after the IPCC report is released, the Environment Department puts out an easy-to-digest summary for the public that outlines the report's key findings. And then that the summary is well publicised by government frontbenchers.
After all , Abbott - in between a few famous comments to the contrary - has often said he believes climate change is ''real, humanity does make a contribution to it and we've got to take effective action against it''. If he knows this, shouldn't we all?