Tag Archives: Australian Coal Association

Jan 25, 1995 – greenhouse and electricity reform policies battle. Greenhouse loses…

Twenty two years ago today, behind the scenes, a crucial ‘non-decision was made. According to an  excellent report in the Australian Financial Review (it makes truly rueful reading) 

AUSTRALIA’S electricity reforms and greenhouse policy appear to be headed in contradictory directions. While senior Federal ministers concede that a carbon tax would not be a single solution to meeting greenhouse targets, demand management reforms that would have a substantial impact on greenhouse emissions have been proposed by a working party of the National Grid Management Council.

Yet the latest drafts of that report suggest that the NGMC will step back from critical recommendations.

The article goes on to explain that in early December the demand management working party  of  the NGMC had produced a draft (the third) that listed budget allocations, an energy efficiency levy or tax incentives as three options which could promote energy efficiency.

But when the “final draft” was produced on January 25 by the NGMC itself – in preparation for its ultimate submission to the Council of Australian Governments – each of these recommendations was substantially different.

Gill. M. 1995. The meek take the running on electricity reform. The Australian Financial Review, 13 February, p.12.

The National Energy Market finally came into play in late 1998, and (in)famously its core statement, ‘the code‘,  was silent on emissions reductions.

That silence, like the silence on targets and timetables in the UNFCCC text, means that you end up with repeated reports and reviews which try to retrofit what should have been there at the outset onto an existing and moving architecture.  Thus the Finkel Review should be seen as merely the latest in a long long line of attempted patches…

See also: Hugh Saddler in the Conversation

Also on this day –

The Australian Coal Association (since absorbed into the Minerals Council of Australia) released a press release trying to chivvy the Gillard government along.

Reform of environmental approvals must be kept on track

A proposed change to Australia’s national environment law would jeopardise the reform of environmental approvals for mining projects, according to a submission by the Australian Coal Association (ACA) to a Senate inquiry.

“State and federal governments have been working to address the duplication and inefficiency that exists in State and Commonwealth laws,” said the ACA’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Nikki Williams.

Jan 15, 1990 – Liberal Party feels it got shafted

On 15 January 1990 two senior Australian opposition politicians met with a senior environmentalist, hoping that the green movement would be “neutral” in the impending Federal election.  Ooops.

Context:

On 15 January 1990, Peacock and Puplick met with ACF’s Philip Toyne for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Melbourne. This discussion has passed into Liberal folklore as a great deception. Peacock and Puplick say that Toyne told them that the ACF would not be actively advocating a vote for either of the major parties in the House. It would be supporting the Democrats and the minor parties in the Senate. Peacock and Puplick left with a misplaced optimism. The political truth is that there was no way that Labor’s investment in the greens would be denied. The entire ALP was confident that it would have the green’s [sic] backing. It is idle to think that Toyne was unaware of these realities.

Toyne said later that he told Peacock and Puplick that he personally believed the ACF should not support political parties but that he gave no promise on ACF’s behalf. Toyne’s ‘Pontius Pilate’ defence is that the decision rested with the ACF council of which he was not even a member….

The Liberals were humiliated by the greens. After Hawke called the election the ACF council voted overwhelmingly to direct its preferences towards the ALP. Peacock later told Hewson that Toyne had broken his word and that the Liberals had been misled and ‘dudded’. The Liberals were left bitter and frustrated. The ALP- green alliance, crafted by Richardson, was firmly intact for the 1990 election.

Kelly, P. (1994) The End of Certainty: Power, Politics and Business in Australia. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin page 543

 The Australian Labor Party had won the 1983 and 1987 federal elections in part thanks to the green movement (this is in the days before the Green Party). The Liberals were desperate to neutralise that threat in the 1990 election. Puplick had even managed to get the Liberals to have a stiffer carbon emissions reduction target than Labor.  It was all for nothing though….

Joan Staples, in her impressive PhD thesis on how environmental movements fared under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments does not use this anecdote, which is curious. She does however explain very well the dilemma for environmental movements more generally. Once they are seen as being “of” a political party, they lose their bargaining power both with the other parties and the one they have aligned themselves to. What is to be done? Well, don’t get too bogged down in state processes. That is, of course, far easier said than done. And how far is too far?

Staples, J. (2012) Non-government organisations and the Australian government: a dual strategy of public advocacy for NGOs , PhD Research thesis, UNSW. Click here for PDF. 

And the follow-up

On 5th February, 1992, then Opposition Leader John Hewson wrote to the ACF, in part saying

“I see little point in meeting with you or Mr Garrett so long as the ACF leadership is driven by a partisan political agenda,” Dr Hewson wrote.

This was “so evident in the 1990 federal election when the ACF swung its support behind the Labor Party despite the demonstrably superior environmental policy of the Coalition parties,” he wrote.

Anon, 1992. Hewson snubs Conservation Foundation. Canberra Times, 6 February, p.4.

http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/133929200

Also on this day- 

1992 – Australian Coal Association rep at Guangzhou meeting of the IPCC tries to scupper things. Fails.

The carbon club reserved its attack on the bottom-line statement for late in the meeting. It was not Don Pearlman, but a newcomer from the Australian Coal Association, David Hughes, who fronted the bid for a home run.

“Given all the uncertainties over estimates, based on ozone depletion and sulphate aerosols suppressing warming and the rest, surely we can no longer justify this statement, Mr Chairman.”

“This form of words has been commented on by many referees,” John Houghton said stiffly.

Just like Exxon’s Brian Flannery at the key IPCC scientists’ meeting in 1990, Hughes found no support outside the carbon club.

page 76-7 of Leggett, J. (2001) The Carbon War  [As best I can tell, this would have been 15th January 1992].

Jan 11, 2008 – NSW Minerals Council tells industry to sell sustainability

On this day in 2008 Nikki Williams, then head of thge NSW Minerals Council (think ‘trade union for the mining companies) called on industry to ‘get on the front foot in selling its sustainability message.’ (to quote International Coal News.]

This was a year or so after the NSWMC had run a series of adverts which had been spoofed by Rising Tide. But we will come back to that another day…

Williams became head of the Australian Coal Association in August 2011, and remained the boss until the ACA was swallowed by the Minerals Council of Australia (or vice versa, as some would have it) in 2013.   We will come back to this, and Ms Williams herself, who has made some interesting scientific observations about the Arctic…

These sorts of ‘give us money and get involved in the bare knuckle fight with the activists’ calls are a recurrent feature of trade associations, going back to the 1970s.  Industry always feels misunderstood and under-appreciated, vulnerable to stupid politicians who are endlessly wrapped around the fingers of lentil-eating inner city arts graduates, and crusty ferals…

Also on this day –

1995  The interdepartmental working group that is supposed to design the ‘carbon tax’ meets for the first time. Canberra Times hack Ian Henderson reports in a front page story

“A greenhouse gas levy remains firmly on the Government’s agenda, with the bureaucratic working group responsible for developing the levy meeting for the first time yesterday.”

Henderson, I. Greenhouse  gas levy remains to the fore. The Canberra Times, 12 January, p.1.

Jan 7, 2013 – Frontline Action on Coal activist sends out spoof ANZ press release…

On this day in 2013, Jonathan Moylan, an activist with Frontline Action on Coal,  sent out a false press release, pretending to be the Group Head of Corporate Sustainability of ANZ (a big bank).

“With the aid of nothing more sophisticated than a mobile phone and a laptop, Moylan put out a fake press release stating that ANZ had pulled their funding from the project on ethical grounds. He found a logo on the bank’s website, used the name of an ex-employee, and his own phone number.” [source]

The press release falsely claimed that ANZ was cancelling its $1.2 billion loan facility for Whitehaven Coal’s open-cut mine project in Maules Creek, NSW.

It was tweeted by an Australian Financial Review journo (who had at least bothered to phone Moylan) but quickly pulled when the journo’s editor saw it (by coincidence he knew

2013-01-07-asxlisting
Source: SBS story as per quote above

the ex-employee). Other outlets ran the story without the phone call, and Whitehaven’s share price briefly plummeted.  Moylan’s house was raided, and after pleading guilty he was sentenced to two years in jail, but released with a two year good behavior bond.

A press release the following day by the Australian Coal Association showed them to be less than impressed…

 

see also – the December 2008 action by Tim DeChristopher

Also on this day-

2006.  The Bureau of Meteorology  (more bout them tomorrow) takes a break from faking climate data and Suppressing The Truth to warn of tricky times ahead –

Anon. 2006. Dire warming warning; Dearer food, more bushfires, less water on way. Canberra Times 7 January.

Rising food prices, increased bushfire risk and diminishing water supplies are some of the challenges Australia will face as the pace of global warming accelerates. The Bureau of Meteorology delivered its annual climate summary this week, showing that 2005 was Australia’s hottest year on record. The nation’s annual mean temperature for 2005 was 1.09C above the average, well- above the previous record of 0.84C in 1998.

 

 

 

Jan 15, 1990: 3 Australian men have lunch. Hilarity doesn’t ensue

On 15 January 1990 two senior Australian opposition politicians met with a senior environmentalist, hoping that the green movement would be “neutral” in the impending election.  Ooops.

Context:

On 15 January 1990, Peacock and Puplick met with ACF’s Philip Toyne for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Melbourne. This discussion has passed into Liberal folklore as a great deception. Peacock and Puplick say that Toyne told them that the ACF would not be actively advocating a vote for either of the major parties in the House. It would be supporting the Democrats and the minor parties in the Senate. Peacock and Puplick left with a misplaced optimism. The political truth is that there was no way that Labor’s investment in the greens would be denied. The entire ALP was confident that it would have the green’s [sic] backing. It is idle to think that Toyne was unaware of these realities.

Toyne said later that he told Peacock and Puplick that he personally believed the ACF should not support political parties but that he gave no promise on ACF’s behalf. Toyne’s ‘Pontius Pilate’ defence is that the decision rested with the ACF council of which he was not even a member….

The Liberals were humiliated by the greens. After Hawke called the election the ACF council voted overwhelmingly to direct its preferences towards the ALP. Peacock later told Hewson that Toyne had broken his word and that the Liberals had been misled and ‘dudded’. The Liberals were left bitter and frustrated. The ALP- green alliance, crafted by Richardson, was firmly intact for the 1990 election.

Kelly, P. (1994) The End of Certainty: Power, Politics and Business in Australia. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin page 543

 The Australian Labor Party had won the 1983 and 1987 federal elections in part thanks to the green movement (this is in the days before the Green Party). The Liberals were desperate to neutralise that threat in the 1990 election. Puplick had even managed to get the Liberals to have a stiffer carbon emissions reduction target than Labor.  It was all for naught though….

Joan Staples, in her impressive PhD thesis on how environmental movements fared under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments does not use this anecdote, which is curious. She does however explain very well the dilemma for environmental movements more generally. Once they are seen as being “of” a political party, they lose their bargaining power both with the other parties and the one they have aligned themselves to. What is to be done? Well, don’t get too bogged down in state processes. That is, of course, far easier said than done. And how far is too far?

Staples, J. (2012) Non-government organisations and the Australian government: a dual strategy of public advocacy for NGOs , PhD Research thesis, UNSW. Click here for PDF. 

Other things that happened on this day:

1992 – Australian Coal Association rep at Guangzhou meeting of the IPCC tries to scupper things. Fails.

The carbon club reserved its attack on the bottom-line statement for late in the meeting. It was not Don Pearlman, but a newcomer from the Australian Coal Association, David Hughes, who fronted the bid for a home run.

“Given all the uncertainties over estimates, based on ozone depletion and sulphate aerosols suppressing warming and the rest, surely we can no longer justify this statement, Mr Chairman.”

“This form of words has been commented on by many referees,” John Houghton said stiffly.

Just like Exxon’s Brian Flannery at the key IPCC scientists’ meeting in 1990, Hughes found no support outside the carbon club.

page 76-7 of Leggett, J. (2001) The Carbon War  [As best I can tell, this would have been 15th January 1992].

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

Jan 11, 2008: NSW Minerals Council does a Lady Macbeth

Nikki Williams, as per ABC photo
Nikki Williams, as per ABC photo

On January 11th, 2008, the CEO of the New South Wales Minerals Council calls on the industry to get on the front foot in selling its sustainability message.  [to quote International Coal News.]

Context: That, after all, is one of the roles of these sorts of business groupings. As well as behind the scenes “lobbying” (a term that hides at least as much as it reveals) and the united-front blandishments, there’s a definite bit of “screw your courage to the sticking point, and we’ll not fail” to the role.

 Nikki Williams, for it is she, later became the head of Australian Coal Association, until it was swallowed by the Minerals Council of Australia. More on Ms Williams and her considerable rhetorical abilities at a later date. Unless she gets “bumped” by more important on-that-dates.

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

Other things that happened on this day:

1964 – Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Luther Terry, M.D., publishes the landmark report Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States saying that smoking may be hazardous to health, sparking national and worldwide anti-smoking efforts.

[And for the benefit of any libel lawyers who may have wandered in; we are saying that the NSW Minerals Council had a ‘screw your courage’ role, NOT that Ms Williams ever
a) henpecked her spouse until he entered into a conspiracy to kill the King of Scotland
b) said that she would have dashed the brains of her child out.
or
c) Threw herself from a high window, riven with remorse.]