Category Archives: Australia

June 18, 1991 – Coronation Hill cabinet debate leads to uranium mining ban

On this day in 1991, at the end of a long and fractious Cabinet meeting, PRime Minister Bob Hawke used his personal authority to ban uranium mining in the Kakadu National Park ( the Coronation Hill cabinet decision). It was the beginning of the end for Hawke, who was gone five months later, and also was the impetus for the Industry Greenhouse Network, such was the anger among mining interests.

Also on this day-

1972 “On 18 June 1972, Patrick White made his début as a public speaker from the back of a truck in Sydney’s Centennial Park. He was there to address a rally against the state government’s plan to turn the area into a sports centre, which would have ruined the ecology and amenity of the park.” Peter Ferguson “Patrick White, green bans and the rise of the Australian new left”

2004  AAP, 2004. Australia branded worst greenhouse polluter. Sydney Morning Herald, 18 June. Environmentalists today urged the government to do more to develop renewable energy technologies, amid news that Australia had been branded the world’s worst greenhouse gas polluter. Green groups and industry associations held a crisis meeting in Canberra to develop an urgent action plan for the environment ahead of the federal election.

Ferguson M., 2008. Carbon capture and storage bill introduced. Press release by the Hon Martin Ferguson, Federal Minister for Resources and Energy, 18 June 2008. (cited in Warren et al. 2016)

2013 National Wind Power Fraud Rally in Canberra

2014 The Government introduces the first Direct Action legislation: The Carbon Farming Initiative Amendment Bill 2014 establishes the Emissions Reduction Fund, the keystone of the Direct Action Plan.

2015 Technical Advisory Forum on climate records releases report: “The report found that BOM’s temperature data-set is well maintained, but suggests that BOM refine some of  its statistical methods, improve public understanding of  the program, and avoid using jargon when discussing uncertainty.”

 

 

June 14, 2014 – First mammal extinction from climate change?

On this day in 2014, National Geographic reported

A small rodent that lived only on a single island off Australia is likely the world’s first mammal to be a casualty of climate change, scientists report this week.

The Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola) seems to have disappeared from its home in the eastern Torres Strait of the Great Barrier Reef, the scientists say. The animal was last seen by a fisherman in 2009, but failed attempts to trap any in late 2014 have prompted scientists to say it is likely extinct.

 

Also on this day-
2011  Climate change threat to Australia’s top wines. Adelaide Advertiser

By Robert Burton-Bradley, NewsComAu

CLIMATE change is a ticking time-bomb for Australia’s $5.5 billion wine industry and threatens some of our favourite wines with extinction, a study has revealed.

CSIRO climate change scientist and wine expert Leanne Webb examined ripening times across Australia and found grapes were maturing faster in recent warmer temperatures, affecting quality and taste.

Some growers say they are already modifying their winemaking to cope with the effects and at least one major player is taking steps to move production further south.

June 3, 1989 – Liberals planning green push

In 1989 everyone was running around trying to be green.  The Tasmanian state elections of May had sharpened everyone’s attention, with the Greens getting 15% of the vote.  On this day 28 years ago the Federal Liberal Shadow Environment Minister spoke to journalists about the Liberal plan, which he had been working on for a year.  The Liberals went to the March 1990 Federal Election with a more ambitious emissions reduction target than Lbor.  It did them no good, and all that would be swept aside in the following years…

 

Jones, B. 1989. Libs endorse ‘Climate Policy’. Sun Herald, 4 June, p.5.

THE Federal Opposition is preparing a separate “climate policy” bringing together all issues relating to world climate change.

The document, compiled by a climate policy task force, is expected to be released within a fortnight after endorsement by shadow cabinet.

The Opposition Environment spokesman, Senator Chris Puplick, said yesterday: “The policy will take in the greenhouse effect, the ozone layer, industrial pollution, recycling, tree-planting and climate research.

“At the moment these issues are scattered over a number of policies and it’s an attempt to integrate them and find out where there might be any gaps. Obviously, it will also update things in the light of new standards being set and new technology being introduced.”

Senator Puplick criticised the proposal by the Federal Environment Minister, Senator Graham Richardson, for a referendum to increase the Commonwealth’s powers to override the States on environmental issues.

“I think it is just a bit of very silly kite-flying in the sense that firstly you would have enormous problems in actually drawing up a piece of legislation to amend the Constitution,” he said.

Also on this day.

3 June 2011: Barnaby Joyce makes clear in the SMH the Coalition’s Direct Action policy is just a meaningless ”gesture” for global climate change.  (Mark Butler’s epic Direct Action timeline)

June 1, 2008 – Liberals demand solar panel action, via skydiving stunt

Bernard Keane, a journo with Crikey, wrote a great piece in 2010, while Environment Minister Peter ‘Midnight Oil’ Garrett was getting pilloried in the media (The Rudd caravan’s wheels were beginning to fall off). Keane pointed out that some of Garrett’s critics had been saying different things less than two years previously.  One of those critics, Greg Hunt, would be Environment Minister under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull..

Oddly, this is the Greg Hunt who throughout 2008 opportunistically joined the Greens in bagging Garrett for not rolling the solar panels program out quickly enough, after Garrett introduced a means test on the solar panel rebate to slow the remarkable demand for the program.  In June 2008, Hunt went skydiving — anyone remember that? — to demonstrate that the solar industry was in “freefall — but unlike me it doesn’t have a soft landing ahead of it”.

And here is more info-

Shadow minister throws himself out of a plane

2008 06 01 hunt plane

 

 

 

 

May 17, 2005 Robin Batterham quits Chief Scientist gig for full-time Rio Tinto post…

Prime Minister of Australia (1996-2007) John Howard never got a briefing from the head of the Australian Greenhouse Office, Gwen Andrews. He didn’t even see the need for a full-time scientific adviser. And the one he did have worked simultaneously for mining giant Rio Tinto. Where Howard’s nephew was chief of government relations.  This is how the game is played.  On this day, twelve years ago, that Chief Scientist called it a day.

Australia’s Chief Scientist gives up Govt position for mining giant
AM – Tuesday, 17 May , 2005 08:28:00
Reporter: Karen Barlow
TONY EASTLEY: Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Robin Batterham has decided to accept a full time position with mining giant, Rio Tinto.
The Federal Government says Dr Batterham was instrumental in encouraging investments in science and raising science awareness among the broader community. But Labor and the Greens claim his scientific advice was swayed by industry.

Also on this day-

Frew, W. 2007. Minchin denies climate change man-made. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 March.
A SENIOR Federal Government minister has expressed serious doubts global warming has been caused by humans, relying on non-scientific material and discredited sources to back his claim.
One month after a United Nations scientific panel delivered its strongest warning yet that humans were causing global warming, the Finance Minister, Nick Minchin, has questioned the link between fossil fuels and greenhouse gas pollution.
In a letter he wrote on March 5 to Clean Up Australia’s founder, Ian Kiernan, Senator Minchin took issue with Mr Kiernan’s criticism of the minister’s scepticism.

May 11 – Investor uncertainty in 1990 and 1993

So, who is going to build what where and when if policies might change radically soon and leave you with a stranded elephant/white asset?  It’s a hardy perennial in the business pages, and academics seem relatively blind to questions of finance…. Anyway, in 1990, at peak ‘green hype’ some were already trying to use it as a brake on “sustainable development”.

Sustainable development is catching up with Australia fast. The economy is going through an investment boom which could provide the export revenue in the 1990s that would make our current account and foreign debt positions “sustainable”….

The accompanying table lists 26 major investment projects under consideration which Access Economics says appear to be in danger of environmental veto, including the Cape York spaceport (worth $350 million), the Very Fast Train project ($4.5 billion) and 24 resource and manufacturing projects valued at $11 billion.

Stutchbury, M. 1990. Environmental threat to investment boom.   Australian Financial Review , 11 May.

And as part of his epic bashing-‘Direct Action- timeline, Labor shadow environment minister Mark Butler notes that  on

“11 May 2013: Investors warn of uncertainty from direct action in the AFR.”

May 7, 2014- Business Council loses status with WBCSD…

The Climate Institute (soon to be RIP), got the boot stuck into the BCA on this day three years ago.

The Business Council of Australia’s loss of status with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development is unsurprising as the BCA has displayed a remarkable lack of policy consistency over recent years.

Its position appears to be driven more by short-termism than a thorough assessment of the economic risks to Australia of further global warming. This lack of concern is particularly disturbing as Australia is more exposed to climate change than any other developed country. We are already experiencing the economic and human impacts of the less than one degree warming to date and these costs will rise.  Global warming above two degrees exceeds the adaptive capacity of many Australian industries.

Also on this day-

1992 Dr Hewson captured the full flavour of the initiative in a speech to the Australian Mining Industry Council annual dinner on May 7, 1992, when he described it as sustainable development with a capital D. This move is really an exercise in fast-tracking, with an absolute limit of 12 months on government processes of evaluation, failing which the project gets automatic go-ahead.

This is dangerous, based as it is on the assumption that red, black or green tape is simply frustrating developments, rather than complex issues being carefully evaluated. There is also a quite dishonest attempt to list a long list of stalled projects without acknowledging that many had not proceeded for commercial reasons.

Toyne, P. 1993. Environment forgotten in the race to the Lodge. Canberra Times, 8 March p. 11.

2002  Howarth, I. 2002. Report card on mining industry to be unveiled. Australian Financial Review, 7 May, p. 14.

The Australian mining industry still has a long way to go in its quest for sustainable development, but a major report on the sector has found it has made considerable progress in meeting its social and environmental obligations.

WMC chief executive, Hugh Morgan, will today unveil the Facing the Future report, which investigated the Australian mining industry as part of the Global Mining Initiative undertaken by the world’s biggest miners.

 

2015: Reef plans based on fact not NGO fiction Statement by Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche

Today we welcome the announcements from federal and state governments who are getting on with job of dealing with the top priority issues affecting the Great Barrier Reef.
The Queensland Government’s Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Steven Miles has announced the creation of a new taskforce of experts to improve the reef’s water quality, which will be led by the state’s chief scientist Dr Geoff Garrett.