Tag Archives: Don Burke

June 4, 1992 – Australia signs the UNFCCC treaty

On this day, 25 years ago, Ros Kelly,  Australia’s Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment and Territories signed the United Nations climate change convention (It’s rumoured she was so keen that she almost signed for Afghanistan. Unlike most world leaders, Paul Keating, Prime Minister since December 1991 didn’t attend.

You can read more about Australia and the UNFCCC in my short piece on The Conversation (link goes up tomorrow).

According Matt McDonald, 2005 Fair Weather Friend  “The opposition’s delegate to UNCED in 1992, for example, had criticized the Labor Government’s willingness to give away Australia’s sovereign rights and had emphasized the debilitative economic costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” CPD, Senate, 4 June 1992, p. 3350.

Also on this day
Anon, 1989. Environment focus of global TV show. Canberra Times, 4 June p. 3.
SYDNEY: Australians play a part in a television program on the environment to be seen live in almost 100 countries today.
Our Common Future, based in New York, will bring celebrities and world leader together to spearhead the push towards environmental awareness.

1996 – Cabinet says nope… Callick, R. 1996. Coalition backs industry on climate change. The Australian Financial Review, 5 June, p.2.
Australian industry has applauded the Federal Cabinet’s decision yesterday to oppose a targets and timetables approach to international climate change negotiations, made on the eve of World Environment Day today.
The Howard Government’s position effectively reaffirms that taken by the Keating government and its minister for the Environment, Senator John Faulkner.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, the Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, and the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Warwick Parer, said in a joint statement: “Australia will insist that the outcome of current international negotiations on climate change safeguards Australia’s particular economic and trade interests.” Mr John Hannagan, chairman of the Australian Aluminium Council’s major policy group, said industry welcomed this statement, “reinforcing its no-regrets position as its negotiating stand at the forthcoming Geneva talks”.

1998 http://23.101.218.132/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC19980604025
It is amazing how up to the mark the Hon. R. S. L. Jones is. This very day, Thursday, 4 June, the New South Wales Premier, the Hon. Bob Carr, signed the first carbon credit trade in Australia as part of an innovative program tackling greenhouse gas emissions and creating new jobs in New South Wales. Today the international finance company Bankers Trust and resource consultants Margules Groome Poyry certified the trade. This is the first time in Australia that major players in the finance and resource sectors have backed a carbon sink plantation in Australia.

2001 John Faulkner and Nick Bolkus grill Gwen Andrews and Robert Hill on the Don Burke adverts

Campbell, C. 2007. Back to the future with ad blitz. Canberra Times. 25 June.
In the next fortnight just as Parliament has risen for winter a $23 million climate change campaign will be broadcast, mailed, and plastered in newspapers. It’s not the first. In May 2001, the viewing public enjoyed a six-week ”burst” of ads on the greenhouse effect featuring gardening guru Don Burke. It cost almost $5million. On June 4, 2001, in the hush of Senate committee room 3, floor 2, in Parliament House, Canberra, a Greenhouse Office bureaucrat revealed, ”In a six-week period, we had 425 60-second advertisements, 375 30-second advertisements, 660 15-second advertisements and a further dozen advertisements, and my figures seem to have some problem qualifying whether those were 60 or 30 seconds.” The same officer revealed that post-campaign research of 1000 respondents showed that 88 per cent of respondents considered the greenhouse effect to be a real problem and only 9 per cent considered it a myth.

1st April, 2001: Howard sends mash-note to Bush over dumping Kyoto.

In March 2001, President George’ hanging chad’ Bush had pulled America out of the Kyoto Protocol ratification process, citing the ‘national interest’ (sound familiar?).  This was music to the ears of Australian Prime Minister John Howard.  Although Australia had wangled a sweet sweet deal at Kyoto (a 108% ‘reduction’ target and a land-clearing clause that was an enormous undeserved loophole, as early as September 1998 the Aussies had said they weren’t going to ratify unless Uncle Sam did so first.  Well…

Howard wrote

I have long shared your view, and Australia has consistently argued, that a workable international framework to address climate change needs to be economically manageable and include developing countries, whose emissions will exceed those of OECD countries within this decade.

In my view an effective global framework to address climate change needs to include commitments from all major emitters; unrestricted market-based mechanisms, including emissions trading; an approach to carbon sinks that captures both economic and environmental opportunities; a facilitative, rather than punitive, compliance system; and assistance for the most vulnerable countries to adapt to climate change.

This will require that we engage developing countries, and seek firm commitments from them on future annual emissions. We will also need to encourage the European Union to re-think its opposition to market mechanisms and sinks, key issues for a cost-effective response to climate change.32

Source – Letter from Prime Minister John Howard to United States President George W. Bush, see http://www.lavoisier.com.au/papers/articles/Howardletter.html [dead link] Cited in NSW Parliamentary Library thing, 2002 – The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change: An Update By Stewart Smith

Further info-

Clennell, A. 2001. Lead The World On Greenhouse Treaty, PM Urges Bush. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April. p.2.  (which says that then Environment MinisterRobert Hill revealed letter’s existence on 15 April.  “Greens Senator Bob Brown said yesterday the letter was mostly a public relations exercise for “domestic consumption”.”

On the same day Labor’s Lindsey Tanner, later to be one of Kevin Rudd’s Gang of Four gave a speech…  According to Margo Kingston –

In a speech yesterday, Tanner opined that middle class voters of both hues cared about the environment. “If Labor allows the distinction between the Greens and the Coalition to become the dominant point of environmental differentiation in Australian politics, we will lose a major advantage over the Liberal and National Parties,” he said.

Tanner was concerned that the government would slip through the environment net through advertising glossing over its record. The big one going now is TV celebrity Don Burke extolling the Coalition’s Greenhouse credentials. Funny that, since most of the cash comes courtesy of the Democrats, who insisted on real money going into alternative energy research and rail as part of its price for supporting the GST. The Democrats got $400 million in extra funding for greenhouse gas projects over four years. In retrospect, lucky for the Coalition.

Kingston, M. 2001. Australia: green enough for Kyoto? Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April.

Also on this day –

2002 MRET in Australia 1st Mandatory Renewable Energy Target established (following speech by Howard just before Kyoto)  (on the 2% to 0% target shenanigans – see Kent and Mercer 2006…)

2009- 

The New South Wales Government has questioned the impartiality of a top-level Commonwealth adviser after he raised concerns about a planned expansion of Newcastle’s coal facilities.

Infrastructure Australia Advisory Board member Professor Peter Newman says the damage caused by coal will increase dramatically if Newcastle’s port facilities are doubled.

ABC. 2009. Anger at Rudd’s adviser over coal comments. ABC, 1 April.

 

 

March 12, 2001 – $3.9m advertising campaign versus, you know, doing something…

Actually doing substantive things about climate change – like transitioning from fossil-fuel based generation of electricity and energy to renewables/efficiency etc – would cost political capital, financial capital. It would cause disruption, and piss off powerful people.  And the unborn don’t both to vote, the lazy sods.  So, we keep kicking the can down the road.  But we can’t admit that (to ourselves or anyone else).  And so, we do television adverts instead.  And on this day in 2001 a bunch of climate change adverts started on Australian Television, starring television personality Don Burke (who was not, to be clear, paid for his time).

The Federal Government is spending $3.9 million on an advertising campaign on greenhouse gases featuring celebrity gardener Don Burke, two months after criticism of its $3.6 million ad campaign on the Natural Heritage Trust.

In the ads, on prime-time television and in newspapers, Burke says: “I love greenhouses. Wouldn’t want to live in one, though … and that’s why the Commonwealth Government is doing something about it.

“They’re investing $200 million a year to lower greenhouse gases. They’re working with over 300 major companies, helping them to clean up their act.”

He goes on to introduce 10 ways Australians can make a difference including turning off the TV at the power point, instead of using the remote, washing clothes in cold water and taking shorter showers.

The Opposition’s environment spokesman, Senator Nick Bolkus, said yesterday the ad campaign was an “outrageous abuse of taxpayers’ money”.

… The Government’s Australian Greenhouse Office confirmed the full cost of the advertising campaign was $3.9 million, with the ads to run for six weeks.

2001 Clennell, A. 2001. Pitched Battle Over Don Burke Ads. Sydney Morning Herald, 13 March, p.5.

Burke responded to critics the following day –

“I knew in doing this … the Opposition would come back with various statements. As I say, I’m not an apologist for the Liberal Party.”

Anon, 2001, Greenhouse ads raise ireDaily Telegraph, 14 March, p. 20.

 

Also on this day- 

In 2002 the European Commission’s Delegation to Australia issued an unambiguous denial of the idea that Australia could trade carbon permits without, you know, ratifying the Kyoto Protocol…

“On the question of carbon emissions trading, the Kyoto Protocol clearly states that carbon trading is allowed between those Parties who have ratified the Protocol. Countries that are not Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are not eligible to participate in emissions trading under it. Nor can emission reduction projects or carbon sequestration efforts taking place in its territory be rewarded under the Protocol.20″

[Hamilton, 2004, 1st September talk]

2010 –  second Australian Climate Action Summit