A Changing (Liberal) Climate: The climate policy and rhetoric of Australian Liberal Party leaders, 2007-13

Stream: Panel 73 - Environmental Politics: Changing Environmental Discourses 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 11.00 am – 12.30 pm


There is a now a burgeoning literature on the recent developments in Australian climate change policy. Scholars have often considered the role of leadership in explaining these policy outcomes, especially in the light of the rapid changes that have accompanied elections and changes in party leadership. Understandably, given its preference for stronger action on climate, current literature largely focuses on the Australian Labour Party during its period in government from 2007-13. However, this paper argues that equally relevant and rapid changes in policy have occurred within the Australian Liberal Party, under the leadership of John Howard, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. The paper examines these developments in two ways. First, it describes the content of the three major versions of climate policy announced by Liberal leaders during this period. Second, it focuses on the manner in which Liberal leaders have sought to frame and justify these policies through analysis of launch speeches. While each leader has brought a distinctive focus to their policies and justification of it, it is clear Liberal leaders face a difficult balancing act. Clear interaction is observable between each leader’s specific ideas about climate change and policy, the broader philosophies of their party and electoral considerations.


Adam Hannah (Presenter), University of Melbourne
PhD candidate in political science, University of Melbourne.

Andrew Gibbons (Presenter), University of Melbourne

Jeremiah Brown (Presenter), University of Melbourne