Julie Bishop says climate change has been ‘weaponised’ in Australian politics


After leaving politics at the last federal election in May, Ms Bishop replaced former Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans at the helm of the ANU.

But during her first month in the job, the campus was closed due to bushfires and had important research destroyed by a violent hailstorm.

The university is also grappling with a travel ban from China due to the coronavirus, which is stopping thousands of Chinese students from flying to Australia before the start of the academic year on February 24.

Ms Bishop said Australia has been on the front line of extreme weather events and climate change, and it has “given many people cause for reflection”.

She said the decision on emissions reductions for the Paris conference while she was foreign minister was “a unanimous position. We can agree, even though there might be different perspectives on how we achieve that.”

But climate change had been weaponised, “ostensibly” costing a series of prime ministers since Kevin Rudd their job, she said.

“Julia Gillard lost her way when we – as a Coalition – mounted such an effective attack on the carbon tax that both Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull were subject to such discontent in the party room because there were not aligning with a particular view of climate change,” she said.

“But I actually think many of those leadership tensions were related to other matters … as I said, weaponised.”

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Ms Bishop had no regrets about campaigning against the carbon price, even though it effectively reduced emissions.

“The fact is Julia Gillard as prime minister promised, ‘there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead’ – I can’t believe I still remember that. Her government was always going to be held to account for that election promise.

“No I don’t have any regrets that we held her to account. I do regret that the National Energy Guarantee did not become government policy, I believe it was an elegant solution.

“It was agnostic on how renewable or other forms of energy would be produced, as long as it was lower in price and accessible 24/7 and met our emissions reduction targets. I believe the National Energy Guarantee would do that.

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