Tag Archives: Gareth Evans

May 24, 1994 – Labor Foreign Affairs Minister on the UNFCCC

I’m as happy to bash the Howard government (1996-2007) for its egregious record of environmental vandalism as the next guy.  But let’s not pretend, please, that the Labor governments before and after them were wonderful.  This, from 23 years ago, showed Labor in less than full-throated commitment to what it had signed two years previously.  By the end of the year, they’d be openly talking about withdrawal…

 

Gill, P. 1994. Minister signals change of policy on greenhouse gas. The Australian Financial Review, 26 May, p.6.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Evans, has thrown doubt over a long-standing Federal Government position on greenhouse gases in a move which will alarm the business sector.

The doubts on Australia’s response to the UN Climate Change Convention were compounded by Senator Evans’ admission that Australia had recently been “rolled” on its tough stand on the Basel convention on hazardous wastes.

At a Senate Estimates Committee hearing on Tuesday [24th May], Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth asked: “Has Cabinet agreed that Australia will not implement measures under the climate change convention which would damage our competitiveness, unless other countries also do so?”

Senator Evans replied: “It is premature to be drawing conclusions. Cabinet has not addressed the issue in those terms and it would be premature of it to do so.”

But Cabinet has considered the Government’s greenhouse gas response in those terms and the business sector has drawn some encouragement from the Government’s position that Australia’s economic growth would not be compromised by its response.

 

Also on this day

The Lavoisier group held a workshop which had been postponed from the highly appropriate date of  1st April  (Taylor, L., 2000, 11 April). This provoked a media release –Dinosaur business group is an embarrassment” from Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace Australia

Media release – May 24, 2000

Australian environment groups have united in condemnation of a greenhouse meeting in Melbourne today, labelling it an embarrassment to Australia.

The meeting of the newly established “Lavoisier Group” is a move to discredit climate change science and bring together business groups in opposition to limiting greenhouse pollution.

These ‘climate sceptics’ fly in the face of the hundreds of global business players who gathered at the World Economic Forum’s Annual meeting in Davos this January. This business group resolved that climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world at the beginning of the century.

Speaking from the meeting today, Greenpeace Political Liaison Officer, Shane Rattenbury said; “This is an embarrassment for Australian industry. These people are five years behind the facts.”

Meanwhile, the BCA kept firing warning shots…

Keep the Finger Off the Greenhouse Trigger: BCA

24 May 2000

The Business Council of Australia today called on the federal government to develop a framework for a mature and productive debate about the establishment of a greenhouse trigger and other greenhouse measures.

The BCA’s Executive Director, Mr David Buckingham, said the differing views expressed earlier this week by federal Cabinet ministers graphically illustrated the need for such a debate.

“It is transparent the trigger has some very real issues associated with it, including the potential adverse impact on investment, jobs and regional development,” Mr Buckingham said.

 

 

Labor sent out a media statement too.

Government Fails The Greenhouse Challenge Nick Bolkus – Shadow Minister For Environment

Media Statement – 24 May 2000

“The government needs to put an end to its internal bickering on Greenhouse and start making some much needed progress towards meeting our targets” said Senator Bolkus today.

This morning’s report in the Australian Financial Review represents a wake up call to the Federal Government. Unless we get serious now, the next set of targets imposed on Australia will be a lot more onerous.

“With emission levels already some 19% over 1990 levels, how does the Government expect to deliver on its international Kyoto target commitment to constrain emissions growth to 108% over 1990 level?” said Senator Nick Bolkus, Shadow Minister for the Environment.

Today’s news shows quite starkly that the Government programs are not meeting the challenge, that the Government is not serious, and that to date Senator Hill has been concealing the truth. It was only a few weeks ago that he was telling the Senate that Australia would meet our targets.

“It is a myth that emission reduction will hurt the economy” said Senator Bolkus. “Efficiency improvements will strengthen the economy and make us more competitive. Investing in sinks will help combat salinity which is costing us billions each year.”

“Indeed, ABARE’s own research shows that under a very conservative costing analysis of greenhouse response, 85% of Australian industry will benefit.”(*)

“What Senator Minchin has failed to tell us is what it will cost us not to do anything. How much will we lose when the Great Barrier Reef is destroyed from coral bleaching within the next 40 years? How much will it cost to lose all our ski fields by 2070?(**)

Even the World Business Council on Sustainable Development has singled out Australia and highlighted our status on greenhouse:

“Australia has some specific challenges to deal with on climate change… Australia now needs to meet the targets and then be prepared to go further.”(***) ●

This Government has lost the bigger picture and is failing the Australian community.

(*) Evidence presented at the Senate Inquiry into Global Warming by the Sustainable Energy Industry Association (**) These scenarios based on CSIRO modelling (***) WBCSD-BCA Forum in Melbourne (May, 2000)

http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media/pressrel/FDK16%22

The whole thing got picked up by Lenore Taylor in the Fin.

Industry groups yesterday began a public campaign to back the Federal Industry Minister, Senator Nick Minchin, and the deputy Prime Minister, Mr John Anderson, who are fighting to quash Senator Hill’s greenhouse trigger plan.

Taylor, L. 2000. Industry adds its weight to oppose greenhouse move. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

 

Meanwhile,

Strutt, S. 2000. Mining blasts Queensland freeze on coal-fired energy. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

Moves by the Queensland Government to slash greenhouse gas emissions, including a freeze on new generating licences for coal-fired power stations, have been condemned by the mining industry amid widespread predictions of a hike in electricity prices…. But Mr Beattie said the industry had to realise it was a “political certainty” the Federal Government would move to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions in the near future.

Ha ha ha ha.

 

March 1, 1989 – Australian government calls for international treaty on #climate

Hard to believe it, almost 30 years later, but in 1989 the Australian Federal Government – caught up in the concern about climate change, and aware that Australia was vulnerable, and that the problem needed co-ordinated global action – favoured action. This was all in the pre-UNFCCC period (the negotiations for that did not start until January 1991). This below came a week before Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans went to The Hague for a conference on climate change, part of the flurry of the years 1989 and 1990…

Federal Cabinet is set to back calls for an international treaty to protect the environment, a move which could drastically alter the nation’s future pattern of trade and the development of its resources.
Australia would support an international treaty to guard against potentially dangerous shifts in the earth’s climate and atmosphere, under a submission expected to go before Cabinet’s structural adjustment committee today.
Dunn, R. 1989. Environmental pact backed. Australian Financial Review, 1 March.

Also on this day –
1990

“Products that pollute should be taxed to be more expensive than environmentally friendly goods, a leading environmental economist said yesterday.”
Polglaze, K. 1990. Polluting products should be taxed’. Canberra Times, 2 March, p10.

1995 (after the defeat of the carbon tax proposal)

Canberra — Conservationists yesterday called on the Federal Government to overcome its “policy paralysis” after Cabinet again deferred finalising a greenhouse emission-reduction package. On Tuesday night, Cabinet agreed to hold off on a decision to allow all Government departments to work out effective proposals to curb emissions.
Boreham, G. 1995. ACF Slates Greenhouse `policy Paralysis’. The Age, 2 March, p.8.

Jan 5, 2006 – Labor MPs release climate refugees paper ‘Our Drowning Neighbours’

jan52006On this day in  2006, the then Federal Labor MP Bob Sercombe and current MP Anthony Albanese issued Our Drowning Neighbours, Labor’s Policy Discussion Paper on Climate Change in the Pacific, with the goal of generating a more proactive, strategic approach. [Does anyone out there have a copy. It’s strangely absent from the internet these days…]

Climate change had been recognised as an existential threat (in the literal sense.None of this Sartre nonsense) from the late 1980s.  Then Foreign Affairs Minister Gareth Evans had talked about Australia’s responsibility.  Of course, it was just fine words, which John Howard dispensed with altogether (see the spat in CHOGM just before the 1997 COP3 meeting in Kyoto Japan).

For an overview on the issue, you could do worse than this 2009 paper from the Australia Institute. See also this coruscating piece from 2010 by Kellie Tranter. And an event report from October 2016 on Voices from the Climate Front Line.   See also 350 Pacific and SEED.

We will return (again and again) to Australia’s clear contempt for its neighbours. So it goes…

Oh, and this is probably worth a read

Charles Hawksley (2009) Australia’s aid diplomacy and the Pacific Islands: change and continuity in middle power foreign policy, Global Change, Peace & Security, 21:1,
115-130, DOI: 10.1080/14781150802659473
Great powers seek to influence world affairs; middle powers seek to influence their regions. Australia’s ‘near abroad’ includes Indonesia and the South Pacific, especially Melanesia. Elected Prime Minister in November 2007, Kevin Rudd has indicated a new direction for Australian policy in the Pacific and the previous image of a pushy or bullying Australia has to some extent been laid to rest. Yet the key differences between Rudd’s policies and those of the former government of John Howard appear to be of style rather than substance. Despite the new rhetoric of greater engagement, the emphasis on market forces creating development shows an essential continuity of Australian foreign aid policy in the South Pacific

 

Also on this day –

1995 The “greenhouse interdepartmental committee” met for first time to plan Environment Minister Faulkner’s next submission to Cabinet on the proposed carbon tax. The committee was led by Phillip Toyne… (see Henderson, 12 Jan 1995 [Or was it actually the 11th, as per a different source]).  On the same day, Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett sent out a news release ,  “opposing carbon tax and using many of the points put forward by the Industry Greenhouse Network….” (Worden, 1998: 111)