Tag Archives: Australian Financial Review

March 14, 2007 – The Australian Public Service feels ignored on #climate change…

So throughout the 1990s and the first half of the naughties various ‘policy entrepreneurs’ (Ian Dunlop, Phillip Toyne, Robert Hill, Bob Brown, Bob Carr etc etc) tried to get a price on carbon institutionalised.  Without any success – John Howard, ably assisted by Nick Minchin and the ‘Greenhouse Mafia’  blocked every effort. It must have been slightly aggravating, what with a ‘price on carbon’ being a kind of no-brainer as part (not all, part) of the toolkit for a transition.  And on this day in 2007 (yes, there will be a lot of 2007 in this project – it was a Big Year)- the head of the Australian Public Service, Ken Henry (ask him about a Resources Tax sometime…) gave a speech at an APS internal biannual departmental forum at Canberra’s Hyatt Hotel.  He noted that the department had

“worked hard to develop frameworks for the consideration of water reform and climate-change policy…. All of us would wish that we had been listened to more attentively over the past several years in both of these areas. There is no doubt that policy outcomes would have been far superior had our views been more influential.”

The story leaked, natch, onto the front page of the Australian Financial Review, on 4th April, in an article by the estimable Laura Tingle and added to the woes of the Coalition Government, which looked like (and had been) ignoring the bureaucrats….

2007 Tingle, L. 2007. Revealed: Treasury chief’s blast at government policy. The Australian Financial Review, 4 April, p.1.

Also on this day-

1997 – Senator Parer seems to be an exception. For instance, at the Australasian Institute of Minerals and Metallurgy Annual Conference at Ballarat Senator Warwick Parer said: “I don’t have any figures to back this up, but I think people will say in 10 years that it [greenhouse] was the Club of Rome” and “The attitude of this government is to look for ways to allow projects to go ahead.” The SMH (14.3.97 ‘Greenhouse effect? No worries says Parer’.).
(Duncan, 1997:83)

Anon. 2001. $4.1m commonwealth grant offer for NSW R&D gas project. M2 Presswire.
“The Commonwealth Government has offered Sydney Gas Company N/L research and development grant totalling $4.1 million for a coal gas project that will provide Australia with a major environmentally friendly and clean energy source close to its most populous area, Industry Minister Nick Minchin said today.”

2013 Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation’ report released:
“The Productivity Commission (PC) report identifies policy and regulatory barriers to Australia’s ability to respond or adapt to climate change. The report provides recommendations for building adaptive capacity.”   Yes, and I am sure every single one of those recommendations has been turned into SMART goals that are being implemented as you read this sentence. Oh yes.

Feb 15, 1995 – the Fin briefly understands Jevons’ Paradox

Having helped defeat a proposed carbon tax, the Australian Financial Review steps back for a minute and looks at the bigger picture. In an editorial published on February 15 1995, it momentarily groks Jevons paradox.

“But no-regrets policies cannot be counted on to significantly reduce Australia’s total greenhouse emissions. The reason is that making the economy more efficient and competitive will lead to higher levels of output.”

Also on this day

Diesendorf, M. 2006. Muzzling of CSIRO scientists is part of a wider campaign.  The Canberra Times 15 February.

ABC TV’s Four Corners program and especially its reporter, Janine Cohen, should be congratulated on highlighting an undemocratic practice that has been going on for decades: the muzzling of CSIRO scientists from participating in public debate about greenhouse response strategies and energy alternatives….



Taylor, L. 2011. Time to knuckle down to make a choice, before it’s too late. The Age, 15 February.

For a decade the main parties in Australian politics have been choosing expensive, dumb policies to reduce greenhouse emissions over the cheap, smart option of an efficiently designed carbon price.

They’ve consciously picked ideas that cost 10 times more than the cheapest option of a carbon price, which they have repeatedly promised, only to change their minds.


Green, M. 2013. Bursting the carbon bubble. The Age,15 February, p.16.

Energy analysts and activists warn that most of the world’s fossil fuels must remain in the ground, and that it can’t be business as usual for the industry.

Feb 1, 1990 – IEA calls for a carbon tax

At the height of concern about climate change, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to release its three reports and negotiations for a climate treaty all to begin in 1990, the International Energy Agency gets in on the act, with its boss, Ms Helga Steeg, flying a kite of economic measures,  including – gasp – a carbon tax.  That had been there in the fine print of the Toronto declaration from June of 1988, but everyone had been more hung up on the eye catching 20% reduction target.  In November 1989 an Australian politician (we won’t say who just yet – keep you guessing) had suggested it too….  The battle for a price on carbon was beginning.  Twenty seven years later, who can say we are any closer.

“Drastic measures to combat global atmospheric pollution caused by burning carbon fuels were urged yesterday by the International Energy Agency.”

Anon. 1990. Carbon Fuel Tax May Limit Pollution Levels. Australian Financial Review, 2 February.

Also on this day –

Five years later, a columnist in the Fin does a thought experiment.  Turns out Australia should keep digging it up and selling it….

Everyone wants a drop in carbon dioxide emissions but the costs have not been properly assessed, reports ALAN MITCHELL LET’S suppose that Australia did decide to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by cutting back on its use of coal. Presumably it would start by cutting back on the inefficient or low-value uses of coal.

Mitchell, A. 1995. Ambitious energy target may prove too difficult to achieve. The Australian Financial Review, 1 February.

Jan 17, 1995 – Economic ministries throw their weight around on carbon tax…

According to Peter Gill, a well-connected journalist working for the Australian Financial Review, the government department seeking to introduce a carbon tax of up to $5 a tonne got schooled in who exactly runs the policy show over the course of the evening of Tuesday (17th) and the morning of Weds (18th) January 1995.  The economic ministries pointed out that

“the Government’s greenhouse response is an economic issue as much as an environmental issue. As such, greenhouse was not his province alone. That stand demanded a substantial rewriting of a confidential greenhouse options paper in the hours before it hit the fax to industry and environmental groups. The most significant change saw a mooted carbon tax of up to $5 a tonne of CO2 in the near-final draft chopped to a $1.25 a tonne tax.”

Gill, P. 1995. Ministerial rewrite softens carbon tax. The Australian Financial Review, 20 January. p.2.

This is how the game is played. Come back on October 11th, and learn about the Interim Planning Target of 1990. There’s always someone with a sharp pen – the bureaucratic equivalent of a sock full of wet sand…

Jan 8, 2013 – Prime Minister Gillard connects heatwave and climate change

As the website Climate Citizen puts it

On Tuesday January 8 [2013] the Bureau of Meteorology released an interim special climate statement on the Extreme January heat Australia is currently experiencing. Record temperatures both day-time maximum and night-time minimums continue to be broken. The extraordinary heatwave has also been the scene for catastrophic fires, especially in Tasmania. The Prime Minister Julia Gillard saw the devastation in Dunalley and among her many interviews and press conferences made a brief statement connecting the intensity of bushfires with climate change.

But of course, you’re not supposed to be able to link weather phenomena to climate.  That would be a fundamental attribution error…  Except, of course

See also the Guardian‘s take on it.

Also on this day-

Peter Walsh, finance minister under Hawke, and later to be a founding member (president?) of the Lavoisier Group takes an early pop at climate science (he’d been at it for a while already) in the Fin.

BACK in 1989 a proposal to spend $6 million on an Australian response to the greenhouse effect and climatic change was being considered. The 1990 Budget Papers identify another $17 million for climate change core research and “multifaceted programme initiatives” – which presumably includes funding various national and international greenhouse conferences so beloved by greenhouse activists.

He also in this article cites approvingly John Daly’s ‘The Greenhouse Trap’…

Walsh, P. 1991. Credibility Gap in Greenhouse Gabfests. Australian Financial Review, 8 January, p.7.


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

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 2, 1995 – Carbon tax on the cards, says BCA boss…

On this day, 21 years ago, the Australian Financial Review did an interview with the then executive director of the Business Council of Australia, Paul Barratt.  A month previously a last-minute proposal for a carbon tax had been brought to Cabinet by the Environment Minister, Senator John Faulkner. Business was seriously under-whelmed, having believed that their ‘co-operative action’ stance had seen of the threat.  The Fin reported that Barratt believed, thanks to the environment movement’s loss on wood-chipping, that

‘The search for quick revenue raisers and a political sop to heal the breach with environmental groups in the run-up to this year’s Federal election had put a carbon tax squarely back on the Government’s pre-Budget agenda.’

Wallace, C. 1995. Environment taxes tipped to placate enraged greens. The Australian Financial Review, 3 January, p.3.

As it turned out, the tax proposal was defeated (announcement made 13 February 1995) and Australia instead plumped for ‘voluntary action’ in the shape of Greenhouse 21C.  Of which more another day…

Also on this day

2016  The Australian reported that a “‘new deal’ blueprint for sweeping reform of Australia’s environment laws that puts climate change at the centre of ­future economic decision-­making is being prepared by a coalition of 40 leading conser­vation groups.”

Oh dear.  That didn’t go so well perhaps…