The late Ray Evans was a culture warrior of the old school. There wasn’t a rightwing pie (union bashing, opposing aboriginal land rights etc, you name it) that he didn’t have an opinion on, a finger in the pie. In an April 2007 speech about climate change, he quoted this email from Fairfax (owners of the Sydney Morning Herald, the (Melbourne) Age and the Australian Financial Review)
Sent: Thursday, 22 March 2007 9:06 AM
Subject: EARTH HOUR – A MESSAGE TO ALL STAFF
When the lights of Sydney are turned off for one hour at 7.30pm on Saturday, March 31, we should take a moment to reflect, with pride, on the role Fairfax Media has played in Earth Hour.
For the past eight months, the Earth Hour working group has been meeting every Tuesday on Level 19 at Darling Park to plan this bold event.
Every strand of our business – management, editorial, online, commercial, marketing and production – has been involved in the planning process.
For Evans “What is important in this context is that the senior management of one of Australia’s most important media companies, Fairfax Ltd, publisher of the Melbourne Age, the SMH and the Australian Financial Review,sees no difficulty in enlisting all Fairfax staff in the prosecution of a cause which has been described by Cardinal George Pell as a manifestation of ‘pagan emptiness’.”
Also on this day-
2013 Martin Ferguson, seen by some as an unusually pro-mining Resources Minister resigns, in the aftermath of the leadership challenge that never was.
Nineteen years separate two Australian declarations of motherhood, apple-pie and peace/love/understanding. In 1989, with climate change on everyone’s lips, Australia was a signatory of the Hague Declaration=
“The right to live is the right from which all other rights stem. Guaranteeing’this right is the paramount duty of those in charge of all States throughout the world. Today, the very conditions of life on our planet are threatened by the severe attacks to which the earth’s atmosphere is subjected. Authoritative scientific studies have shown the existence and scope of considerable dangers linked in particular to the warming of the atmosphere and to the deterioration of the ozone layer. The latter has already led to action, under the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the 1987 Montreal Protocol, while the former is being addressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change established by UNEP and WMO, which has just begun its work. In addition the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 43/53 on the Protection of the Global Climate in 1988, recognizing climate change as a common concern of mankind. According to present scientific knowledge, the consequences of these phenomena may well jeopardize ecological systems as well as the most vital interests of mankind at large.”
And then, in 2008, after Kevin Rudd had won the ‘first climate change election’ and ratified the Kyoto Protocol as his first official act, on this day that ratification came into effect. The Government issued the Initial Report under the Kyoto Protocol detailing how Australia aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Words. Words. Words”, as the doomed Danish dude declared.
Also on this day-
2006: Burning Coal and burning the planet – “The Australian Labor Party has just released its environmental policy blueprint, and on the face of it, the policy looks ‘half decent’, but, as always needs to be asked, is the ALP policy all it’s stated to be? And, how vulnerable is the stated target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050?”
2011 Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining and Geology at the University of Adelaide and author of ‘Heaven + Earth’ (published in 2009), appears on the Sydney-based “Chris Smith Afternoon Show,” a talk-back radio programme. Plimer expressed a view that there is no evidence that ‘human emissions of carbon dioxide gives us catastrophic climate change’ and took pops at the Gillard government’s so-called ‘carbon tax’.
The mass media, for various reasons, has done a piss-poor job on explaining climate change and the seriousness of the threats we face.
One reason is the amount of ‘flak’ (the term is stolen from Herman and Chomsky) that that comes its way whenever it does do any reporting on the matter. On this day in 2010, the Howard-appointed chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Maurice Newman gave a speech to senior ABC staff. Here’s the beginning of a report on the ABC later that day
The Chairman of the ABC Maurice Newman has attacked the media for being too willing to accept the conventional wisdom on climate change.
In a speech to senior ABC staff this morning he said climate change was an example of “group-think”.
Contrary views had not been tolerated, and those who expressed them had been labelled and mocked.
Mr Newman has doubts about climate change himself and says he’s waiting for proof either way.
There’s a lot on the Australian media’s role in climate change awareness. Here’s some links from an article I wrote about the National Press Club and climate change.
“Australia’s experience has been extensively studied – see here, here,here, here, here, here, here and here. For starters.”
Bloody greenies. Probably getting money for their pagan attacks on our precious bodily fluids and sacrosanct way of life from foreigners. Moscow. Or Beijing. Or Cuba (subs, please check). Only vigorous and brave – and funded- action can stop them! In 2012 North Queensland Liberal MP George Christensen wanted to launch an organisation to counter the ‘the radical Green movement.’ He emailed Gina Rinehart.
According to Laurie Oakes
Christensen wrote: ‘One quick thought was to hold a major rally “In Defence of the North Queensland Way of Life” in Mackay where we would encourage people in farming, fishing and mining to descend on the town for a mass show of support against the southern Green interests. If this was to be successful, we could then quickly move this movement into a formal blue collar/workers organisation that advocated for the North and against the greenies.”
There was a need to act quickly, he said, but the plan could only succeed if Rinehart and others like her got behind it. Not surprisingly, the email, dated March 7 , specifically mentioned financial support.
Oakes, L. 2012. Gina and Clive are Labor’s best assets. The Australian, 26 May.
Also on this day-
1991 Environment Minister Graham Richardson claims that Australia’s greenhouse commitment was “the most progressive policy, I might say, of any nation in combating the threat of greenhouse climate change.”
Senate Hansard 1439
1996 1996 at Ad Hoc Group for the Berlin Mandate,
On 6th or 7th “TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO said Brazil’s proposal on QELROs provided a logical way forward and Germany’s proposal provided impetus to the work of the AGBM. He said the gas-by-gas approach is the simplest and most effective, and expressed surprise at Australia’s idea of equity. Each country could propose an idea of equity that suits its own needs.”
AGBM ENB on REPORT OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE AD HOC GROUP ON THE BERLIN MANDATE: 5-8 MARCH 1996
2001 Environment Minister Robert Hill’s plan for Australia to be a bridge between US and Europe squashed b the Greenhouse committee- (see Hordern AFR report 16 March 2001)
2006 Opposition Leader Kim Beazley releases an energy policy. If you listened carefully, you could hear Rudd breathing down Kim’s neck. By the end of the year it was on…. Beazley releases energy policy. ABC, 7 March .
2011 was a very very interesting year for Australian climate politics. And a bloody one. Kevin Rudd’s failure to get his Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme through parliament,and his decision to shelve it, had caused a drop in his popularity. After a battle with miners over a mining tax (they spent $22m on a’Keep Mining Strong’ campaign’), he was replaced as Labor leader (and Prime Minister) by his deputy Julia Gillard in June 2010. During the subsequent election campaign she had said there would be ‘no carbon tax under a government she led’. Usually- but not always – she added that her government would look at a price on carbon. Whoops.
The price of support from Green and Independent MPs in the subsequent hung parliament was… a price on carbon. Gillard then mangled the labelling of that policy, most spectacularly on 24 February 2011. Tony Abbott, by then Opposition Leader, can surely not have believed his luck. Recently his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, has admitted what everyone knew – the Gillard ETS was not, in fact, a carbon tax.
At the time, well… on this day that year, elder-journalistman Laurie Oakes, he of the “hierophantic condescension” had this to say
“Wingnuts are coming out of the woodwork. The mad and menacing phone calls to independent MP Tony Windsor are just one indication. There are plenty of others online. The carbon tax and Tony Abbott’s call for a people’s revolt have crazies foaming at the mouth. You see it on the ‘Revolt Against the Carbon Tax’ Facebook page, for example. Like this message from a Gillard-hater about a rally in front of Parliament House being planned for March 23: ‘Just like Egypt we stay there and protest continuously until she and her cronies, Bob Brown Greens etc are ousted! We have got to get rid of this Godless mistress of deceit.'”
Oakes, L. 2011. Loonies latch on to the politics of hate. Daily Telegraph, 5 March.
Also on this day –
2004 The Australian National Audit Office issues a report that basically skewers the Australian Greenhouse Office (see March 4 blogpost for the background to the establishing of the AGO…)
2007 Senator Nick Minchin writes to Clean Up Australia’s founder and disses – quelle surprise- climate science (see Wendy Frew, 15 March 2007.)
The Howard government’s ability to constrain public pressure for climate change action had in part rested on the claim that business was united in its opposition to, say, Kyoto Protocol ratification. This was always nonsense (do you think renewable energy proponents, or carbon traders, or insurers, for instance, would be opposed? What about the gas industry?). But this appearance of unity was assisted by the Business Council of Australia. Eventually, however, the internal ructions became too much, and it moved from opposition to ‘no position’. Then Hugh Morgan became President. And it was only at the end of 2006 that things shifted. Fortunately, we have loads of time to deal with climate change, so the additional wait didn’t matter. Oh yes…
“Business support for the Federal Government’s hardline position on climate change is crumbling, with the Business Council yesterday scrapping its outright opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.”
Garnaut, J. 2003. Business shifts tack on Kyoto. The Age, 1 March.
Also on this day –
Chamberlin, P. 1995. Cabinet to review gas reduction options. Canberra Times, 28 February p.2.
“A plan to take Australia about 40 per cent of the way towards meeting international obligations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be discussed by the Cabinet today, with schemes designed to tempt top-level industry involvement.”
2007 The denialists got going, with a launch at Parliament House for this little doozy – Nine Facts about Climate Change Ray Evans [Originally published in November 2006 as a PDF (click here, 1.5 Mb). Launched in Canberra by Sir Arvi Parbo on 28 February 2007](Parbo had been a founder of the Business Council of Australia, btw).
Paul Kelly, in his excellent (if under-subbed) Triumph and Demise observes that John Howard’s (very) belated conversion to climate “action” (if you can call appointing a bunch of fossil fuel CEOs to a committee that is going to produce a report [aka the Shergold Report]) wasn’t going to solve his climate problem. Kelly is robust (some would say ever-so-slightly right-wing) but always a good read;
Howard’s problem was that he had changed his policy but not his political strategy. He refused to genuflect before the icons: Al Gore’s scare, the drought as proof of a climate transformation, and Kyoto sanctification. For the ABC, Howard was now a figure of undisguised ridicule. His Lateline interview of 5 February 2007 began with this mocking question from Tony Jones: ‘Can you recall exactly when it was that you ceased being a climate change sceptic and became, in effect, a true believer?’
What Kelly doesn’t report is what happened later in the interview that revealed Howard might be completely on top of the implications of the issue…
At 10.25 last Monday night, 234,511 people nationally tuned in to the ABC and saw Tony Jones ask John Howard what he thought living in Australia would be like by the end of this century “if the average mean temperatures around the world do rise by somewhere between four and possibly more than six degrees Celsius”.
“It would be less comfortable than it is now,” was the Prime Ministerial response.
Tingle, L. 2007. Bear in mind threats of climate change. The Australian Financial Review, 9 February, p
Also on this day –
1992 In response to an Australian Conservation Foundation request to meet to discuss environmental matters in the context of the ‘Fightback!’ policy proposals, Liberal leader John Hewson told Philip Toyne and Peter Garrett that they could meet with his shadow environment minister instead, because they were ‘partisan’. [This goes back to that January 15 1990 lunch meeting, which Paul Kelly wrote about in a much earlier book….]
Anon, 1992. Hewson snubs Conservation Foundation. Canberra Times, 6 February, p.4.
According to Labor Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler’s epic ‘Direct Action’ timeline, on “5 February 2010: Danny Price in The Australian starts to back away from costings and admits direct action is not “sustainable in the long term”. “