Voters in mining areas turned on center-left opposition that had campaigned on climate change issues

Voters in mining areas turned on center-left opposition that had campaigned on climate change issues, by Rob Taylor with the view from the Wall Street Journal.

Australia’s conservative government eked out a surprise victory in Saturday’s national elections after voters in resource-rich districts turned against center-left opponents who had put climate change at the heart of their campaign.

Behind in polls for more than two years, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition appealed to voters in battleground states such as Queensland, struggling at the end of a long mining boom, with a campaign focused on the economy and jobs.

With 75% of votes counted, the conservatives were hopeful of gaining a narrow majority in Parliament’s 151-seat House of Representatives, or more likely governing in minority with the support of conservative-leaning independents. Political experts predicted the government would win 74 to 75 seats, just short of a majority and improving on the 73 seats it previously held. …

Labor campaigned on a pledge to reduce emissions by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030, after Australia under the conservatives became the first developed nation to abolish a price on carbon in 2014. The party also promised a push on renewable energy and electric vehicles.

While the message appealed to many city voters, voters in resource-rich regions worried Labor’s climate plan would drive up living costs and put coal miners out of work. Mr. Morrison’s government approved a controversial coal mine in northeastern Queensland planned by Indian conglomerate Adani Corp just days before declaring elections. …

“When climate change is a moral issue, we Liberals do it tough. When climate change is an economic issue, we do well,” Mr. Abbott said Saturday as he conceded defeat.