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Brown Budget glosses over climate as temperatures rise, ice melts

by Colin Hughes | May 18, 2024 | Comment & Analysis, Latest Posts

Despite the net zero claim, there were no new measures in Jim Chalmers’ Federal Budget to transition households, which are responsible for 46% of Australia’s emissions. Colin Hughes on the Budget climate miss.

We’ve had the ‘other‘ budget, the ‘dirty‘ budget, and the ‘inflation-fighting‘ budget, but with a budget surplus of $9.3B, where are the subsidies for households, particularly low-income and rentals to electrify with rooftop solar, air, conditioners for heating and cooling and to get rid of our gas stoves?

Gas stoves are causing a 30% increase in childhood asthma, and our diesel cars cause increased deaths from heart disease and cancer. Yet, the one-off cost-of-living energy supplement does nothing to address next year’s increased energy costs from fossil fuels, while electrification will save households $2500 every year.

Victoria gives up to $4000 for homes, and Queensland gives $4000 for home batteries, but the Federal Government subsidises fossil fuels to the tune of $14.5B.

The Other Budget: Labor staring down the barrel of a climate deficit

Ignoring global warming

The $17.4B investment in the new super energy economy is welcome, but the world’s atmosphere won’t reap the benefit until at least 2035. Compare this with the continued diesel fuel subsidies over the same period of $50B. In 80 years, 50% of emissions will still be causing global heating. Global warming that this week has seen the world’s temperature exceed 1.65 degrees, making 2023 the hottest year on record.

Continuing the $20,000 tax write-off while delaying pollution emissions standards will mean another three years in which 24% of new cars will be gas-guzzling, massive 4WD killing machines. Transport emissions kill 11,400 a year compared with road deaths of 1200. Let’s hope the cross-bench amends the legislation to only write off EVs or Hybrids.

Don’t say we cannot afford to electrify homes when the defence forward estimates have blown out to $300 billion, or 2.7% of spending.

On the day that research on the 380 IPPC Climate Scientists revealed the outlook for the world’s galloping global warming, the Australian Government revealed its Future Gas Strategy to accelerate major new fossil fuel (sic) projects beyond 2050.

77% of respondents believe global temperatures will reach at least 2.5C degrees above pre-industrial levels, a devastating degree of heating. Close to half – 42% –  think it will be more than 3C degrees. Only 6% think the 1.5C degrees will be achieved.

This is catastrophic. Already, we have seen the 7th mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef since 1998. This time affecting over 90% of the reef. And just like bushfires, which destroy precious biodiversity, leaving behind the plants that grow quickly, like scrubby bushes and weeds, this mass coral bleaching kills 400-year-old corals and the ecosystems they support.

Temperatures keep on rising

The world has experienced 366 days of continuous temperatures above 1.5 degrees, peaking at 2C degrees. Remember those Paris claims that we should be at net zero by 2050 to have a 50% chance of remaining under 1.5C degrees?

So why is it happening? Well, Climate Science told us that as far back as 1914, increasing the burning of coal was causing a hot blanket effect on the earth’s atmosphere. This year CO2 has peaked at 427ppm from 320 in 1959. Remember, 350ppm was what is ecologically sustainable. The greenhouse effect was first discovered by scientist Joseph Fourier in 1824. 200 years ago.

200 years of climate denial by our policymakers and governments.

Why the sudden acceleration? Well, again, Climate science predicted that tipping points would be reached where the world could no longer use its homeostasis ( temperature regulation) to control the earth’s atmosphere. The most important of these are the Amazon Rainforest, the lungs of the world, of which 25% has been destroyed in the last 50 years.

The Arctic Sea ice and West Antarctic shelf have seen the largest loss of ice ever recorded. The fresh cold water is slowing the Atlantic Meridional Oscillating Current, the very system that provides warmth to northern Europe and North America, leaving it prone to massive shifts in the polar vortex, bringing ice storms to Texas.

The oceans are boiling, showing a record 0.64C degrees hotter than the 1991-2020 mean. This is because the oceans absorb 90% of the world’s heat, equivalent to 9.8 Hiroshima bombs per second over the past three years. Ever tried boiling a glass of soda water on your stove? Watch the bubbles of CO2 disappear into the air. That water goes into the clouds and increases the severity of storms, cyclones, and floods.

In Western Australia, after the driest and hottest summer on record, our South West is experiencing forest collapse. Large tracts of our unique Karri and Jarrah forests and the ecosystems they support are dying as rainfall has decreased by over 25% over the past 40 years.

Woodside’s carbon bomb

If Woodside’s Burrup Hub goes ahead, it would be the Southern Hemisphere’s largest gas carbon bomb, with its lifetime climate pollution more than 13 times Australia’s annual emissions from all sources., according to the Australian Conservation Foundation. Put simply, you can’t piss in your own backyard. Just because Scope 3 export emissions aren’t counted in Australia, all that pollution spews into the atmosphere and comes back to bite us.

WA Carbon Fiasco: Pilbara plant to blow more CO2 than Safeguard Mechanism will save

Yet our Government uses scientifically discredited arguments from the fossil fuel industry to claim we need more gas to secure enough gas for transition. 82% of all gas that belongs to us, the people, gets used in export with little or no revenue. More gas is compressed to LPG for transport than the entire domestic gas used.

Then there’s taxes, or not

The royalties paid by the gas industry to the WA government totalled just $670 million in 2023-2024, or just 1.5% of the state revenue. Motor vehicle registration contributes twice as much. The 4 biggest LNG producers operating in WA, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Woodside and Shell, made a combined income of $55.2 billion in 2021-22 and paid $1.7 billion in corporate income tax and petroleum resource rent tax.

They contributed less to the Commonwealth government than Australia’s beer drinkers, who raised $2.5 billion in beer excise, according to the ATO (via The Australian Institute).

Even the USA, with its IRA bill, has recognised the need to massively transition through the electrification of households and transport. We know the solutions. We just need to Wake Up Australia to take to the streets and demand climate action from our state-captured politicians.

Our priorities and the taxation system that supports them are all wrong.


Formerly with the Flying Doctors service, Colin Hughes started the first Public Health unit in Perth and was inaugural Chair of the Divisions of General Practice. He is a Bombers fan and climate activist.

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