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Australia’s Carbon Tax Message

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Editorial, The Wall Street Journal

Tony Abbott shows that climate alarmists have a problem: democracy

Tony Abbott scored a big win Thursday when the Senate repealed Australia’s carbon tax, fulfilling the Prime Minister’s most prominent promise from last year’s election. The global intelligentsia is now making Mr. Abbott public climate enemy number one, but he deserves applause for honoring his campaign pledge and removing a burden on the Australian economy. As the first developed nation to rebel against the cost of climate scare-mongering, Australia could start a trend that has greens worried.

Mr. Abbott’s Liberal Party doesn’t control the Senate and so had to enlist the support of Clive Palmer, a colorful entrepreneur-turned-politician whose Palmer United Party holds three seats. Mr. Palmer generally turned the debate into a circus that included an appearance by Al Gore, who somehow was led to believe that repealing the tax would lead to a cap-and-trade scheme.

This made it possible for most of the world’s media to ignore the reason the tax had to go: The public hates it. Somehow Australians don’t buy the argument of Greens party leader Christine Milne that without a carbon tax the country will become “a global pariah.”

Five years ago Australia was in the vanguard of the anticarbon crusade. As Tom Switzer writes nearby, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd set out to pass a cap-and-trade scheme in 2009, but failed to strike a deal with an opposition leadership then ready to support it. When the rest of the world then declined to sign up to expensive carbon-reduction measures at the Copenhagen summit that December, Mr. Rudd looked even more foolish. […]

Mr. Abbott’s views reflect those of a public that cares about environmental matters but not at the expense of reducing economic growth. Australians also don’t want to bear inordinate costs for carbon reduction when they produce only 1.2% of the world’s emissions. The climate dogmatists denounce anyone who disagrees as “deniers” or worse, but Australia’s vote shows that the real obstacle to their dreams of controlling more of the world’s economy is democratic consent.

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