May 18, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Australian election: Voters in mining areas voted on economy over climate issues

Scott Morrison

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

Australian voters turned against center-left opponents pushing aggressive strategies to combat climate change when they reelected Australia's conservative government in the country's national elections on Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Our thought bubble via Amy Harder: "The elections indicate that Australia will continue to closely resemble the Trump administration’s positioning on climate change. Climate advocates had said this election would be a referendum on the current leadership’s positions on climate change, the results suggest that either voters don’t care as much about the issue compared to others or they prefer less aggressive measures, as the current leadership is pursuing."

The big picture via WSJ: “Climate change, a thorny problem that has ripped apart governments, re-emerged as an election issue following a summer of wildfires, drought, floods and extreme temperatures: Voter support for policies aimed at addressing climate change was at the highest level since 2007. But, as in the U.S., divisions grew more stark as the issue gathered steam.”

  • From 2016 through 2017, climate change-related marine heat waves caused widespread bleaching and killed parts of the reef, a World Heritage Site and top tourist destination.

One level deeper: Several Liberal Party candidates won in the state of Queensland, near the Great Barrier Reef, per the New York Times.

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison campaigned in support of major coal mine projects like the proposed Adani coal mine in that region, which would be one of the largest in the world if approved by the government.
  • "Voters favored immediate concerns about jobs over the risks of climate change," the Times reports.

Be smart: The Adani mine has been likened to Australia’s Keystone XL pipeline, in terms of its outsized role in defining the national debate on energy and climate change — just like Keystone has done for a decade here in America.

Go deeper: Amy's recent column reported from Down Under: Why Australia's climate change election matters to the world

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