Tony Abbott's Christmas surprise – solar panels from priests | RenewEconomy

Tony Abbott’s Christmas surprise – solar panels from priests

UPDATE: A crowd-funded solar system for Kirribilli House has been delivered to the PM – a Christmas gift with a message from Sydney church leaders.


It’s a safe bet that a set of rooftop solar panels did not feature in Tony Abbott’s letter to Santa this year. Nevertheless, that is what our coal-loving Prime Minister is getting – a Christmas gift with a message, from a group of local Sydney church leaders.

The group, called Common Grace – a rapidly growing movement of thousands of socially-minded Christians from various denominations – delivered the 12 PV panels to Abbott on Thursday, for installation on Kirribilli House – a job the Australian Solar Council has offered to do for free.

The solar system itself was crowd-funded in just four days, through in an initiative led by Common Grace. “With your help,” the fundraiser read, “the PM won’t get coal from Santa this Christmas – he’ll get solar panels from priests.”CommonGrace_solargift2

Abbott, who himself was once destined for the priesthood, has not been a huge advocate for renewable energy, preferring to tout coal as “good for humanity.”

Lately, his Coalition government has been focusing its efforts on winding back Australia’s renewable energy target (RET), a formerly bipartisan commitment to deliver 41,000 GWH of energy through renewable sources by 2020.

“The solar panels are a gift for the nation, from the nation, to symbolise public support for a clean energy future,” said Rev. Dr Michael Frost, vice principal of Morling College and Founder of Small Boat Big Sea.

“Nine in 10 Australians support a strong Renewable Energy Target. By giving solar panels to Kirribilli House, Christians are adding their voice to a chorus of Aussies who want to see a vibrant renewables industry,” he said.

Aerial shot of Kirribilli House, Sydney
Aerial shot of Kirribilli House, Sydney

“Our message to the Prime Minister is: don’t knock renewables until you’ve tried them.”

Jacqui Remond, director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, and a member of the party that was to deliver the solar gift, said that as Christians, they recognised the importance of clean energy in helping to prevent dangerous climate change.

“Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue – it’s a matter of justice. It’s about people in poverty, particularly indigenous populations, who are being hit first and hardest for what they’ve contributed to least. It’s also about Australians who are preparing to face more intense and frequent bushfires as we approach what could be the hottest summer on record,” she said.Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 11.46.05 AM

Common Grace says that if Abbott turns down their offer of a rooftop solar system, the panels will instead be installed at the Davidson Brigade of the Rural Fire Service, where Abbott serves as a volunteer.

“Firefighters are on the front line of climate change, fighting increasingly frequent and intense bushfires. It’d be a small way we can say thank-you for what they do,” said a statement from the group.

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  1. Chris Fraser 6 years ago

    The person or organisation that pulls this off would have a right to feel very smug. I think i would be happy just to see Tony in a solar powered bike helmet this Christmas that makes his little red light flash.

  2. Rob G 6 years ago

    The question is how much pressure can this coal lover, hack? Apparently a lot! We’ve had the Pope telling him to take action in a letter to the G20, Al Gore said he should move aside if he doesn’t get the science, Actors have pleaded to him, Scientists have repeatedly warned him. The UN have announced that fossil fuels need to stay in the ground to avoid the 2 degree threshold. Church groups, that should have had some sway with him have been ignored. David Cameron, today, said more pressure would be brought onto Australia for being a climate lagger. Other world leaders have signalled that they are onboard with climate action AND YET HE REMAINS UNMOVED! Does he only answer to the coal lobby??? Is he just plain stupid? Even Julie Bishop (who barely believes in climate action) finds Abbott out of touch and as such global embarrassment.
    Where to from here? Well the pressure is building on all of Abbott’s ‘team’ and the time is coming where their own seats will soon be in jeopardy if they don’t switch leaders. Voters tolerance for ignoring the climate issue has already been felt in the VIC state elections. Even the climate denier, Howard, recognised climate action to be an important vote loser.

    • michael 6 years ago

      what do actors, al gore and the pope have to do with australian policy decisions?

      • Pedro 6 years ago

        Probably have more credibility than Abbotts current energy advisers. At least their motivation is to help reduce the impact climate change rather than prop up the profits of the FF industry to the detriment of us all.

      • Chris Fraser 6 years ago

        Still waiting for the punchline on this one ? OK WHAT do actors, al gore and the Pope have to do with Australian climate policy ?? A: They had hoped to cut through where qualified climate scientists, most of the leaders of the world, Australian voters and the IPCC all got ignored …

      • Rob G 6 years ago

        Nothing. But this is an article about yet another group trying to convince Abbott to take action on climate change action. We all share this world and most of us want to protect it. Let’s turn it around: What does the coal lobby have to do with policy decisions? Apparently too much it appears.

      • Harry Verberne 6 years ago

        They get it, that action is needed and they are prepared to add their voice.

    • glr22 6 years ago

      You forget the other voices in his ear Rob G – big mining companies and News Corp. That is who he owes his job to and they are who he listens to and acts for.

      • Rob G 6 years ago

        Sure they are in his ear. But with NewsCorp, Rupert’s main aim was for the NBN to be killed. It was a massive threat to his Foxtel monopoly, he couldn’t care less for coal even though he is a climate denier. With mining companies – coal was the one under the biggest threat with the now abolished carbon tax and mining tax. They had more to lose than other mining interests so have been very supportive of this dubious government.

  3. Pedro 6 years ago

    What a great idea. Start with Abbott then do the rest of the LNP one by one on their electoral offices.

  4. michael 6 years ago

    From the CSIRO

    “Since European settlement, the total amount of fire in the landscape has declined. The bushland areas and particularly those around Sydney, New South Wales, have thickened and accumulated more fuel. As a result, the infrequent fires that now occur under extreme weather burn much more intensely and have a significant impact on the built environment.”
    but heck, much easier to blame recent fire intensity on climate change i guess

    • Pete 6 years ago

      Michael, all that proves is that the more recent settlers haven’ t learned to live with the environment in the way that the original settlers did. In no way does it invalidate the fact of climate change. Doesn’t the fact that we’ve had 360 consecutive months with temperatures above the 20th century average tell you anything?

      • michael 6 years ago

        it says that directly linking climate change (ie slight increases in average temperature) to any increase in fire intensity, as the article does, is very shallow analysis. I’m not making any comment about climate change, but interesting you took it that way.

        • Chris Turnbull 6 years ago

          I had chicken schnitzel for dinner, Michael.

          • michael 6 years ago

            Good decision, chicken is delicious

          • roscoe 6 years ago

            And a very smart answer too.

      • Colin Spencer 6 years ago

        OK guys, let’s switch off the coal fired power stations for a month. Better get a packet of ear plugs though.

    • roscoe 6 years ago

      And the earth is flat and Chem trails are all over the sky. The science is out there my friend.

    • Philip Jensen 6 years ago

      Even scientists in the CSIRO get it wrong. The article you quote from is unreferenced and as such has limited credibility. This on the other hand is hard to argue with…

    • Harry Verberne 6 years ago

      We are discussing solar panels as a gift for Abbott. What relevance is your comment??

  5. Glen S 6 years ago

    I highly doubt our idiot PM will accept the panels and have them installed. He’ll probably not even know what they are, possibly wondering why someone has delivered him some windows with tint so dark you can’t see through them.

    • Guest 6 years ago

      he will probably return them …. it’s not like it’s a free scholarship for his daughter

    • Peter 6 years ago

      He will probably use Joe Hockey’s line when talking about wind turbines – the installation of solar panels on Kirribilli House will make it an eyesore.

    • Vic 6 years ago

      They’ll probably end up in China’s renewable energy museum alongside the panels that Ronald Reagan had removed from the roof of the Whitehouse.

  6. Thom Starling 6 years ago

    You could give every member of the coal-ition a set of panels and nothing will change because they just don’t care about the planet or the majority of people who live on it. I’d go as far as saying that there attitude would be more one of gloating over the fact that they got new solar panels for free while everyone else has to pay. They and their supporters live by the philosophy of ‘F#^k you lot, I’m all right’. In fact giving Abbott solar panels for free is a rubbish idea, I would rather support the idea of crowdfunding people like myself who are trying to exist on a pension while paying exorbitant electricity bills.

  7. Kitty Possum 6 years ago

    he will probably return them and use the cash on a new pair of budgy smugglers …. it’s not like it’s a free scholarship for his daughter

  8. Mags 6 years ago

    God works in mysterious ways!!!!

  9. Petra Liverani 6 years ago

    Very, very interested to see if he has them installed. I think it’s a fabulous gift and especially considering from whom it’s been given it will look very churlish if he refuses it. He can, of course, pretend he’s passing it on to an organisation who’s in greater need or some such nonsense but it will still look really bad. (I think the priests should have kept their contingency plan secret.)

  10. Alan Baird 6 years ago

    It’s all a bit weird. Tone spends squillions on the “Priests in Schools Scheme” (wonder when the first “Kiddie-Fiddle” occurs in a school?) and the men of the cloth send in panels. It doesn’t compute. Basically, if you’re irrational and believe in your secret friend who runs the universe and would never allow something nasty like global warming, Tone’s your man. Fascinated that during the recent siege people were praying for a happy ending all over the place. And as for Pakistan… enough said. Religion and politics should be strictly segregated and STRICTLY optional.

  11. Phil Harvey 6 years ago

    The aerial shot shows Admiralty House. I hope they didn’t accidentally deliver the solar panels to the Governor General!

  12. Yorath Briscoe 6 years ago


    Abbott the twat.

  13. Harry Verberne 6 years ago

    Abbott will get a lump of coal for Christmas.

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