Tag Archives: ACTU

March 25, 1995 Women and the Environment conference and the red-green problem

Environmentalists and ‘extraction’ workers (miners, forestry workers) are not ‘natural’ enemies.  And those in charge fear a coalition forming, to the extent that they’re willing to kill to prevent those links forming (think Chico Mendes, or Judi Bari, among thousands -see ‘The War on the Greens’).  In 1995 a conference in Melbourne saw yet another attempt to build/mend bridges…

Bad blood flows between the green movement and the union movement. The controversy over logging recently has led to ugly incidents between timber workers and conservationists. Ms George said she had agreed to speak at a conference on women and the environment this weekend to try to ease some of the hostility between the two groups…. The Australian Conservation Foundation’s executive director, Ms Tricia Caswell, said the ACF, Greenpeace and women’s groups had decided to host the conference at the World Congress Centre because women were often the backbone of community environment groups and were the main environmental educators to children but received little recognition.

Milburn, C. 1995. ACTU’s George Plays Peacemaker To Greens, Unions.  The Age, 24 March.

Also on this day- 

In 1997 there was a Greenhouse Challenge signing ceremony, Parliament House. The Greenhouse Challenge was the purely voluntary programme response that was used to block attempts at legislative/regulatory efforts to reduce emissions.

On this day in 2013, with the Gillard government trying to survive attacks by Rudd, attacks by the media and get itself in shape for an impending Federal election, the Australian Department of Climate Change, created with fanfare in the early days of the Rudd Government, was disbanded.   Most of its “functions were moved to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, with responsibility for energy efficiency transferred to the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.”  (sorry, can

March 21, 2007 – Unions want #climate action

Ten years ago today, with climate change on everyone’s mind and a Federal election looming, the Unions stated their case. The excellent journo Rosslyn Beeby, then at the Canberra Times,  had this story-

Beeby, R. 2007. Union pressure on climate. Canberra Times, 22 March.

The ACTU has called for sweeping national reforms across transport, mining, agriculture, construction, education and public health to tackle climate change and generate new jobs. The comprehensive green action plan will increase pressure on federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to adopt a more radical climate change policy as Labor prepares for next month’s national conference. Reforms outlined in the ACTU’s newly endorsed climate change strategy include government subsidies for energy efficient retrofitting of buildings, new mandatory green building codes for all commercial buildings, large-scale reuse of treated effluent, improved vehicle fuel efficiency and greater use of shipping to cut national transport emissions. ACTU secretary Greg Combet described climate change as ”the pre-eminent policy challenge of our time”, and urged industry to ”face up to global warming and be accountable for investing in sustainable jobs rather than raising the fear of job losses and expecting government handouts”.

It all went horribly horribly wrong of course.

Also on this day-

In 1990 Bob Hawke spoke at the National Press Club, ahead of the Federal Election (you are never more than 2 years 11 months from a Federal Election campaign in Australia).  He warned disaffected voters “When you wake up on 25 March,” he said, “there won’t be a Democrat government or a green independent government.”

In 1994 on this day, (on the same day that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into ‘force’) the New South Wales  Singleton Council approved Redbank coal-fired power station. Greenpeace contested this in the courts, and lost…

In 1995, according to

Dwyer, M. 1995. Australia takes strong line against greenhouse rules.  The Australian Financial Review,  21 March.

“FEDERAL Cabinet is today expected to endorse Australia taking a tough stand – at a ministerial meeting on climate change in Berlin next week – against new measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

And indeed, Australian negotiators did got to Berlin hoping to prevent a global agreement. But that agreement – to come up with something the “developed world” would do – got through, and set the path to Kyoto… Of which more later…

Feb 8, 1995 – Business united in anti-carbon tax meeting. Unions too.

Staying with the carbon tax debate- on this day 22 years ago, business played a blinder.  They presented a united front at a ‘business roundtable’ meeting, opposing a tax and proposing a voluntary scheme instead. And, interestingly, they eschewed climate change denial.  The assembled ministers were convinced, and Environment Minister John Falukner realised he wasn’t going to be able to get Cabinet to agree to the tax.  The following day saw this on the front page of the Australian Financial Review –

THE ACTU and the business community have joined in a powerful alliance against the introduction of a carbon tax by the Federal Government.

Behind closed doors in Canberra yesterday, five senior ministers were warned that economic output could be cut by nearly $5 billion over five years if a “small” carbon tax were introduced. And a leading mining group cast doubts over nearly $2 billion of new investment.

The ACTU, while opposed to a carbon tax, proposed a surcharge on income tax if the Government was interested in raising revenue.

More than 20 business groups and the ACTU were involved in yesterday’s ministerial roundtable – attended by Senator Cook (industry), Senator Collins (primary industries), Senator McMullan (trade), Senator Faulkner (environment) and Mr Beddall (resources) – which came after a similar session on Tuesday with environment and community groups.

Callick, R. and Gill, P. 1995. Unions back business against carbon tax. Australian Financial Review, 9 February, p.1.

Also on this day-

2010 Malcolm Turnbull gives a blistering speech on floor of parliament while voting for Rudd’s CPRS

 

Jan 18, 1993 – ‘Greens Jobs in Industry Plan’ of ACTU and ACF…

On this day 24 years ago the faint hopes of ecological modernisation in Australia got a boost. As a article in Green Left Weekly reported

“A major new effort to develop jobs which protect the environment”, was how the January 18 joint statement by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Conservation Foundation described their joint Green Jobs in Industry Plan. The scheme was launched at the Visyboard Paper and Cardboard Recycling Plant in Melbourne by Peter Baldwin, minister for higher education and employment services.”

Noakes, F. 1993. ACTU and ACF launch green jobs program. Green Left Weekly, 27 January.

Norton in his  2004 PhD thesis is sanguine, and  points to the tensions between the ACTU and ACF over woodchipping (and presumably the carbon tax, though he doesn’t mention it) sending the union/environmentalist relationship into the deep freeze for a good decade or so…

Basically, if you want to have new industries (not based on ripping stuff out of the ground, then you need a highly educated workforce and conception of the state that is more open to ‘picking winners’ (rather than protecting rent-seekers indefinitely). It’s not easy, but Australia has it seems never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  So it goes.

Also on this day –

1995 – a story based on a leak of documents that purported to be Senator Faulkner’s carbon tax proposal but ACTUALLY came from his opponents gets front page billing and leads to fulminating editorials in the Fin and the Sydney Morning Herald.  Dirty tricks… work….

“FEDERAL Cabinet is considering a series of controversial measures to cut greenhouse emissions, including a carbon tax of up to $20 a tonne, which would raise $13 billion over three years, and an extra 10c/litre fuel excise.

“The proposals – detailed in a Cabinet document obtained by The Australian Financial Review – are set to generate massive industry hostility, and to switch the environmental spotlight from Mr Beddall, the minister responsible for the woodchip controversy, to the Minister for the Environment, Senator Faulkner, and his departmental deputy secretary, Mr Phillip Toyne, who is masterminding the greenhouse strategy.”

Callick, R. 1995. Revealed: Green tax shock *$13bn grab *$20/tonne carbon tax *New 10c/litre fuel levy. Australian Financial Review, 18 January, p.1.