PM Abbott, Christianity and Morality

Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, makes no secret of his Christian beliefs. How do they fit in with his support of the polluting fossil fuel industry and opposition to effective action on climate change?

Do his actions tell us anything about Christianity, as it is practiced, and morality in general?

Written 2014/01/06, last edited 2023/06/03
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©


Ethics, moral philosophy, has always interested me. A nation needs high ethical standards in its government and from its people if it is to thrive.

We are sometimes told that we need religions to help us to behave morally. Do we see moral behaviour from our Christian PM? Does he provide a moral example of how the rest of us should live?

A tiny part of the planet that is at risk from PM Abbott's unsustainable fossil fuel economy

PM Abbott and telling the truth

Telling the truth is valuable in any moral and functional society; it is essential in a Prime Minister if a democracy is to function as it should.

Both Old and New Testaments condemn lying in a number of places, see Open Bible.

PM Abbott has continually claimed that the carbon tax introduced by previous PM Gillard was to blame for high electricity prices. This is almost entirely false. The carbon tax and the RET (Renewable Energy Target) have only caused a slight increase to electricity prices. By far the greatest causes of the increase has been unnecessary spending on electrical infrastructure ('gold plating of the poles and wires') and the increase in the price of the gas that is used to generate much of our electricity.

PM Abbott has employed Maurice Newman as the chairman of his business advisory council and Mr Newman is making public statements ridiculing climate science and blaming climate change action for slowing the economy. Mr Newman even squeezed nine fallacies into one sentence about wind power. Does Mr Abbott employ Maurice Newman to do his lying for him? Is that any more moral than doing his own lying?

PM Abbott and protecting "God's creation"

God's creation?
Morning mist
Doesn't it deserve protection?
The Bible places very little stress on the protection of our environment, perhaps this at least partly explains PM Abbott's lack of serious action on climate change.

Ethicists would look at the subject in the context of the society that wrote the Bible. The ancients had few of the aids that we have to help us destroy the environment; their power came from themselves, their slaves and their draft animals. They had very little use for fossil fuels. They had little ability to damage their farm land.

Some of the ancients, such as the Sumerians, did damage land by the unsustainable use of irrigation, but irrigation seems to be less used by those who wrote the Bible, it seems that they were more reliant on the seasonal rainfall. The ancient Hebrews may not have seen a lot of soil salinisation caused by unsustainable irrigation practices.

Since they would have not seen much man-made environmental damage they did not write about the need to protect the environment in the context of their view of God.

However, you would think that a Christian would feel some responsibility to not damage the Earth that he would believe was created by his God. Apparently PM Abbott does not feel this responsibility.

PM Abbott and the pursuit of wealth

Native vegetation
How will climate change impact this?
To a philosopher and an environmentalist there is no question about which, wealth or the environment, is more important; no amount of money can justify trashing our environment.

The New Testament is clear in its condemnation of the pursuit of material wealth, yet PM Abbott is placing the pursuit of wealth for his supporters, the fossil fuel industry, before the health of the planet.

A quote from PM Tony Abbott on 2014/05/28:

"It's particularly important that we do not demonise the coal industry and if there was one fundamental problem, above all else, with the carbon tax was that it said to our people, it said to the wider world, that a commodity which in many years is our biggest single export, somehow should be left in the ground and not sold. Well really and truly, I can think of few things more damaging to our future."
Coal is an industry that kills millions of people each year by air pollution and is damaging the planet through climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise. The only thing to its credit is the money, yet PM Abbott, a man who professes to be a Christian, is one of its greatest supporters.

How does he justify this with his conscience and his God?

PM Abbott and climate change

Climate change damage at Spring Gully, Clare, SA
Spring Gully Cons. Park
Impact of an exceptionally hot and dry summer and spring
There will be more of these with further climate change
Religious groups around the world have called for serious and strong action on climate change while the Liberals under PM Abbott have gone beyond the neglect of climate change we saw under PM John Howard; they have taken it to the point of a denial of science such as we see from Creationists.

It seems that the Abbott government are so keen on supporting their supporters, the fossil fuel industry, that they are willing to pretend that they do not accept climate change science.

I cannot believe that Mr Abbott is so stupid as to really believe that climate change is not happening or that it will not cause huge damage to the planet, so I am forced to believe that he is acting in the full knowledge of the damage that he is causing.

However, it is difficult to know what he really thinks and believes. He has said – was it in a moment of unguarded candore – that "climate change is crap". In spite of some appearances to the contrary, he must be an intelligent man.

This presents me with a quandary: accepting that he is aware of the reality of climate change, how does he reconcile his actions with his presumed devotion to his God? This I do not understand.

PM Abbott and Catholicism

Interesting article, "Pope Francis Has Declared War on Climate Deniers", New Republic, Rebecca Leber, 2014/12/29.

Will PM Abbott, as a practicing Catholic, take any notice?

How does he reconcile his religious belief with his actions that seem aimed at damaging the future of what he must see as God's creation?

PM Abbott and science denial

Acacia flowers
There can be no doubt of what science is telling us about climate change, ocean acidification, sea level rise and ocean warming. It is clear that the air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels kills millions of people world-wide each year. There can be no doubt that the planet will be greatly damaged if we continue on our present unsustainable course, which includes dumping huge amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Some of the Liberal supporters deny the science of climate change; does PM Abbott do so?

Can he really have been convinced that taking no serious action on climate change is the best course? Has he convinced himself of it?

Has he tried to convince his God that he is acting for the best, or does he put political expediency before his religion?