Cutting to the Bone? Government budgetary spending on climate change

Among Martin Parkinson’s most inglorious forecasts as Treasury Secretary was that there was a global movement towards carbon taxes and other such measures that would rapidly lower carbon emissions.  Only the EU is now following such practices and its measures are being weakened.

Parkinson maintained that the Australian measures were less onerous than those introduced and about to be introduced in Japan, Korea New Zealand.  He said, “Australia is not a first mover, but more accurately described as in the middle of the pack” and claimed that countries representing 83 per cent of world emissions had pledged to reduce them in line with the levels said to be needed.

This year saw a swallowing of Parkinson’s former agency, the notorious Department of Climate Change, within the larger industry department, and his successor at Climate Change, Blair Comley PSM taking over the Resources Energy and Tourism portfolio.  Personnel have been hidden and rearranged – thus the 481 people in Climate Change have been accommodated within a stated net increase in the industry department of only 181 people.

The headline issue has stemmed from the halving of the carbon tax from $25 per tonne to the current estimate of $12.10 a tonne in 2015.  That estimate maintains the new tradition of boldness in Treasury forecasts since the price is linked to the EU scheme now at $4 and falling!  The present punitive tax at $25 per tonne remains in place this year and revenue is estimated at $8.3 billion for 2013/4 before falling as the government moderates its pursuit of world leadership in deindustrialisation.  Lower revenues in out-years are offset by lower compensation to households and businesses.

The budget makes adjustments to the carbon confetti spread around in direct disbursements.  Some reductions have been imposed.  Thus the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute fantasy lavishly funded as one of Martin Ferguson’s pet projects has been cut by $20 million a year.  Reductions in funding have also been made for “low emissions coal” from the 2013/4 year and “Carbon Capture and Storage” from next year.  The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in the Resources Department has seen its funding growth deferred from 2014. Even so, ARENA’s funding rises from its 2012/3 level of $130 million to over $500 million in 2013/4.

But reductions are more than offset by increased “spends”.  Among these in addition to ARENA are

  • a trebling this year to $167 million and further doubling of the “Clean Technology Investment Programs”;
  • a fourfold increase to $91 million in “Clean Energy for Farming”;
  • a doubling this year to $108 million of DRET’s “Clean Energy Future”; and
  • the coming online of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with off-budget special appropriations seemingly locked in at $2 billion a year; on top of these are administrative costs, $300 million in the coming year.

In earlier times, Kevin Rudd’s ALP was proud of its spending on climate change mitigation.  The budget papers offered consolidated data on how much was being spent across half a dozen government agencies.  In 2009/10 Climate Change expenditure was totted up at $1069 million.  Similarly, in “Securing a Clean Energy Future” the ALP/Greens/Oakshott-Windsor coalition provided detailed spending on emission abatement.

The funding is now not easy to identify as it is often lumped with other spending into a single line item.

Total expenditure identified within the Industry, Agriculture, Resources, Sustainability, Treasury and Finance portfolios over the current year and the next two are as follows.  Funding rises, including the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from under $1.5 billion to around $5 billion.

Estimated Direct Government Outlays on Carbon Abatement Measures ($m) 

Portfolio 2012/3 2013/4 2014/5








Resources & Energy








Treasury and Finance









These numbers include some inevitably arbitrary allocation of funding.  For example, global warming is specified as the reason for most of the spending on water conservation.  Similarly, 30 per cent of CSIRO work and 5 per cent of BoM work is allocated to climate change.  By the same token, large items of expenditure are not counted: the many grants to research agencies, the internal resources dedicated to carbon forecasting in Treasury and other departments, the spending in the infrastructure department (like all those bicycle paths) and spending in Foreign Affairs, Education and Regional Australia.

One thing is clear the carbon caper has been a boon for those interested in creating new schemes. Carbon taxes and renewable energy subsidies aside, there is almost $5 billion a year in counterproductive expenditures in the budget that a responsible government can axe.

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25 Responses to Cutting to the Bone? Government budgetary spending on climate change

  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Axe the carbon tax bandwagon? Please feel free to borrow my axe.

    Signed, Lizzie Borden.

    One of my handy Avatars. 🙂

  2. Makka

    Forget the axe.

    Get the chainsaw and cut it all down. Then pour petrol over the stump and roots and burn the rest out, never to be seen alive again.

    There is fully 20% of easily identified waste in Labor’s Budget. It could be cut out in an instant and all we would have to bear is the bleating of the Unionised Public Service, Greenslimers (Including the AB C) and the Unions. That would be the worst of it. Big deal.

    This waste and abuse of Taxpayers is appalling. We are ruining our economy so this Greenfilth can feel good about themselves. Time to deal with these traitors.

  3. Rob MW

    In regards to Martin Parkinson’s objectiveness on this subject a cynical person may very well laugh.

    After watching Lateline last night with Tony Jones interviewing that stupid John Cook and some cataclysmic idiot from America I decided that a nuclear fallout shelter should be on top of my shopping list for next week./sarc

    The Fourth Horseman:

    “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living creature say, ‘Come and see.’ And I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death and by the beasts of the earth”

  4. Greg Byrne

    Gerry Jackson has written about these issues for about 15 years but mainstream free market organisations didn’t want to know about it and one person wrote a paper in favour of carbon taxes and highly abusive blog about “The Hater Strikes Again”. What are you people really about? Do you want to blow the global warming crowd out of the water once and for all or just promote your own organisations?

  5. Alfonso

    “to kill……by the beasts of the earth”
    This is way out of date. Since soft point bullets and centrefire rifles any uppity beasts of the earth in any number are dead meat.

  6. Carpe Jugulum (don't call me sven)

    Every penny spent on ‘climate change’ and their associated departments should be scrapped, the departments dismantled, the buildings demolished and the ground salted to remove their taint.

    RET should be withdrawn and subsisdies to ‘green’ energy schemes cancelled.

    Any local council embracing ‘green’ principles should be sacked and an administrator appointed.

    Enough with the carpet baggers gravy train.

  7. jupes

    The only sensible energy policy for Australia is to generate the cheapest electricity possible.

    As we have an abundance of coal. That means new coal fired power stations. Good for miners, good for manufacturers and good for ordinary consumers and taxpayers.

    The only losers will be the renewable ‘industry’ and assorted hangers on at various government departments.

  8. Alan Moran

    Greg Byrne thinks his alta ego Gerry is the only one writing on these matters. My first dispatch on the global warming fraud was in 1992 (Tasman Institute) and I’ve been writing in IPA capacity since 1996.

  9. OldOzzie


    “The only sensible energy policy for Australia is to generate the cheapest electricity possible.

    As we have an abundance of coal. That means new coal fired power stations. Good for miners, good for manufacturers and good for ordinary consumers and taxpayers.”

    Even Europe is staring to realise the uncompetitive nature of their electricity costs

    The chart is worth looking at from below

    EU officials now fretting over Europe’s conspicuously higher energy prices

    For quite some time now, Europeans and various EU member countries have done plenty of self-congratulatory applauding of their own green-energy efforts, proudly lauding their many expensive renewable subsidy programs and quotas and their flailing cap-and-trade scheme and whatever else as an excellent example of what they were certain would prove to be the way of what must unquestionably, necessarily be a carbon-free future — except that, in Brussels over the past week, one simple chart has been making the rounds that is accelerating a possible group rethink of Europe’s fractured and lavish energy policies, via the Financial Times:

    From a common point in 2005, three lines diverge widely to reflect the fact that prices in Europe are now 37 per cent higher than those in the US, and almost 20 per cent higher than those in Japan.

    That chart captures a growing fear in Europe that rising energy prices now pose a threat to the industrial competitiveness of a region mired in recession. It has been driven home by a steady stream of announcements from European manufacturers about plans to build new production facilities in the US.

  10. Up The Workers!

    Maybe what this country needs is somebody in charge of Federal Treasury who has more ‘gravitas’ than Martin Parkinson.

    Does anybody know what Bozo The Clown is doing these days? How about Humphrey B.Bear…I hear that he has a bit of time on his hands, and being an expert in Fairy Tales, would be far more authoritative on the “Gerbil Worming” issue than Parkinson; his Party; the A.L.P., or their intellectual and scientific advisors, Tasmania’s Brown Movement.

  11. Makka

    Parkinson is a card carrying Greenie. I assert this due to his enthusiastic role in delivering untold waste in his prior post as Secretary for the Central Planning Committee on Climate Change.

    That he brings his Green waste and spend politics to the uber- politicised Leftist Treasury Dept is entirely to be expected.

    Abott and Hockey must cancel all political appointments such as Parkinson’s and put in place experienced competent functionaries who can actually do Accounting – NOT Social Engineering. Only then will we begin to get value for money out of this sorry Treasury lot.

  12. OldOzzie

    Further to the above on High Energy Costs in Europe

    Something for Wimp Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell (Malcolm Fraser the 2nd) to consider re Shale Gas Mining and Coal Stations in NSW

    High energy costs may drive German firms to US

    Soaring German energy costs in the wake of the country’s transition to renewable energy have seen more and more firms thinking abut relocating their operations. The US looks like a sound alternative, associations claim.

    German industry lobby associations on Wednesday sent a warning shot towards the government in Berlin, saying that rising energy costs in the country would drive away more and more German companies.

    “If we don’t get on top of the country’s energy transition to renewables and are not able to rein in energy costs in the process, German industry’s competitiveness stands to suffer,” the chief of the Federation of German Industry (BDI), Ulrich Grillo, told the business newspaper “Handelsblatt.”

    He said that while Germans are embroiled in a debate about the right energy mix, the US was getting more and more attractive as a business location for German firms, thanks not least to President Barack Obama’s support for the fracking technology resulting in much cheaper energy prices.

    Time to act

    “That means that German companies are bound to invest a lot more in the US,” Grillo commented. Energy-intensive firms like Wacker and BASF speak of clear competitive advantages in the US, with the first already building a production facility in Tennessee.
    The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) said its own surveys had shown German companies’ increasing willingness to move parts of their operations to the US rather than to fellow European nations in search of more favorable framework conditions.

    “The US has become much more attractive to companies than Europe,” DIHK chief Martin Wansleben told the “Handelsblatt”. “Germany is in the process of getting sandwiched between eastern Europe with its low labor costs and the US with low energy costs,” Wansleben claimed.

  13. OldOzzie

    Another one for Wimp Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell (is he really a Liberal or a Labor Plant?)

    UK Prime Minister David Cameron offered robust support for European exploitation of shale gas, telling journalists: “No regulation must get in the way.” “Europe has 75 percent as much shale gas as the US, yet the Americans are drilling 10,000 wells per year while we in Europe are drilling less than 100,” he noted. He added it is “no surprise that over the last decade Americans have increased their energy from shale from just 1 percent to 30 percent, and here in Europe we are now paying twice what the US pays for wholesale gas.” –

    EUobserver, 22 May 2013

    The whole article in WattsUp is worth reading

    Another killer quote from that article

    Europe, the Washington Post recently warned, “has become a green-energy basket case. Instead of a model for the world to emulate, Europe has become a model of what not to do.” EU leaders are beginning to wake up to the enormity of the green energy fiasco.”

  14. Dr Faustus

    The Global CCS Institute could be shut down without any further consideration.

    1) The technology components are about as developed as they need to be (the Institute itself accepts this);

    2) Australia has absolutely no ‘global’ influence or ‘leadership’on CCS; that was only ever a flight of Ruddfantasy.

    3) There is no prospect that Australia will earn an international dollar on its investment. The IP is uncontrolled and Australia is hardly a global standard for low-cost manufacturing and EPC.

    The only real CCS decision is “Do you want to pay between 4 and 8 times the price for your electricity?” – and the answer to that is probably pretty straight-forward.

    All the rest is turd-polishing.

  15. Bruce of Newcastle

    The whole lot must be removed.

    The temperature rise in the IPCC’s preferred period 1906-2005 was 0.74 C.

    Of this about 0.33 C was due to the Sun, mostly by the effect of the solar magnetic field and UV output on cloud formation on Earth.

    Another 0.28 C was due to the choice of this period, which coincides with the low point of the ~60 year ocean cycle and the high point of the following cycle.

    I can provide several more papers which agree with and support these values.

    That leaves 0.13 C for CO2 and everything else. Which fits the satellite measured value of 2XCO2 of about 0.7 C/doubling very well.

    At 0.7 C/doubling, CO2 is harmless. We cannot burn enough carbonaceous fuels to increase temperature more than a degree or so, there just isn’t enough on Earth.

    Therefore it is morally wrong to have government imposed controls on CO2 emission, and all policies to address global warming are likewise morally unjustifiable.

  16. H B Bear

    Hockey can’t say anything ahead of the election but Parkinson has to go.

  17. H B Bear

    Does anybody know what Bozo The Clown is doing these days? How about Humphrey B.Bear…

    Hey! Watch it.

  18. Samuel J

    Parkinson, as Climate Change Secretary and then Treasury Secretary, has been the most expensive departmental secretary in Australia’s history. Extraordinary waste and excessive government spending / intervention in the economy has occurred under his watch.

  19. handjive


    As for any politicians who have ever believed in global warming, or supported the carbon tax, or a carbon-constrained economy, there is no hope for them.

    They are either too stupid or incompetent to be taken seriously.

    Merely recanting, at this late stage, won’t be enough.

    Make their lives hell too, just as they wished a diminished life on you


    That last bolded sentence is worth re-reading.

    This is the part of the Howard legacy that many of us have toiled mightily to avoid:

    The last dark deed of the Howard Government was the passage of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act in October 2007.
    That act is the auditing basis of the carbon tax.

    Mr Howard’s plan was to get the auditing system bedded down, then start taxing.

    Labor’s carbon tax would be a couple of years behind schedule if Mr Howard had not laid the bureaucratic foundations for it.

    * David Archibald is a Perth-based climate scientist and energy analyst. He is a visiting fellow of the Institute of World Politics in Washington DC, where he teaches a course in strategic energy policy. This article is from a speech he delivered at an anti-carbon tax rally in Sydney on July 1, 2012.

  20. handjive

    Oops! soz. link:

    Time to raise hell over the carbon tax

    by David Archibald

    News Weekly, July 21, 2012

  21. Leigh Lowe

    The trouble with the Greenie push is at they are going hell for leather to plant time-bombs.
    The Coalition announced that it wouldn’t honour contracts entered into by the Clean Energy Fund if elected.
    The head of the fund (a public servant if you don’t mind) was sneering and giggling on ABC Radio today, quacking on about sovereign risk and suggesting that beneficiaries of the Fund would sue a Coalition Gumment.
    FFS …. a Public Servant busily shovelling money at rent seekers and deliberately trying to write “bullet-proof” contracts as he called them.
    What a turd.
    I hope he is the first to go in September followed by an investigation into his behaviour.

  22. Peter S

    Thanks for this analysis Alan. It is informative and very much appreciated.

  23. blogstrop

    The wasted money here and around the world on so-called carbon abatement or green schemes or climate change countermeasures, are all testimony to the fact that democracies are hostage to the media, and the media (hostge to left/greens) has been driving all this waste. Politicians who by now don’t see this are all but useless.
    Some have been actively complicit.

  24. cohenite

    Alan is spot on; the AGW ‘science’ is stone dead; see here for 10 of the ‘best’ pro-AGW papers.

    The emphasis now is on renewable energy where you can actually see something for the money wasted; and wasted it is as paper number 10 in the above link explains.

    I mean what the fuck is ‘sustainability” anyway; it obviously refers to fat-cat jobs but anything else?

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