Tag Archives: Graham Richardson

May 3, 1990 – How green was my referendum?

It’s forgotten now, but there was a wave of green awareness/concern/hype from 1988 to early 1991 (when the Gulf War supplanted attention.)  In the middle of it the Federal Labor Government even toyed with the idea of a power-grab from the states!!

CANBERRA: Public support for Federal Government power to make national environment laws had grown to the point where a referendum could now succeed, the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Mr Kerin, said yesterday.

Mr Kerin raised again the need for the Commonwealth to wrest power from the States – first broached by the then-Minister for the Environment, Senator Richardson, last year – at the annual seminar of the Australian Mining Industry Council in Canberra.

Seccombe, M. 1990. Chance for green referendum, says Kerin.  Sydney Morning Herald,  4 May.

Also on this day-

The executive director of the GCP said in a Senate estimates hearing on May 3, 2001 that only one in 10 companies had met their emission reduction targets. (See also Report of the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee, “The Heat Is On: Australia’s Greenhouse Future”, chapter 8.)

March 16, 1994 – Australian Environment Minister reminds everyone of some caveats

Australia made some big promises in the first years of the climate issue, but these were always tinged with an awareness that the USA was unlikely to allow diplomatic work towards emissions targets for rich countries to progress very quickly.  And so therefore Australia would be able to move in Uncle Sam’s slipstream, able to say ‘shucks, we’d like to do more, but the international consensus says….’.  While they weren’t exactly shouting this strategy for all to hear, nor were they lying or dissembling. This report, from Peter Gill, who wrote lots of well-sourced reports on the issue for the Australian Financial review, is a good example, dealing with Graham Richardson during his very brief return as Environment Minister (after Ros Kelly’s resignation and before Richardson’s past caught up with him).

“Cabinet is understood to have agreed in January 1991, before talks on the UN convention, that Australia would not proceed with measures which had “net adverse economic impacts nationally or on Australia’s trade competitiveness in the absence of similar action by major greenhouse gas-producing countries”.
Former environment minister and former senator, Mr Graham Richardson, used exactly the same words when he described the joint Commonwealth-State position on climate change to Parliament on March 16.”
Gill, P. 1994. Minister signals change of policy on greenhouse gas. Australian Financial Review, 26 May, p.6. [Gareth Evans using exactly the same words on 24 May]

Also on this day –
Ritchie, J. 1988. Development of a Strategy for the Australian Coal Industry. Australian Coal Association, paper to the Petroleum & Minerals Review Conference, Canberra, 16 March. [This was the first half of 1988. So climate change wasn’t mentioned.]

1993 Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ms Penny Wensley,was elected to a position of Vice Chair of the INC on Climate Change during the meeting of the committee in New York, USA. [source]

Pheasant, B. 1995. Vic takes stake in $100m coal R&D. Australian Financial Review, 17 March, p.9.
“THE Victorian Government is to participate in the country’s largest research and development syndicate, a $100 million joint venture for research which could make the State’s four baseload brown coal power stations up to 30 per cent more efficient.
The syndicate arranged by Bain and Company includes Perth entrepreneur Mr Kerry Stokes’ Australian Capital Equity as majority investor, with ABN Amro Australia , Mercantile Mutual , Babcock & Brown , and Deutsche Bank AG .”

Anon. 1997. ‘529bn Greenhouse Threat: Downer,” Australian Financial Review, 17 March.
“Official estimates suggested that stabilising emissions at 1990 levels by 2010 would lead to a 3.5 per cent fall in gross national expenditure. [Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer warned that projects worth more than $22 billion were at risk.”

2004 “International Climate Change Taskforce” launched by Bob Carr

2005 DEH Minister Launches ‘Greenhouse Challenge Plus’.
https://www.iea.org/policiesandmeasures/pams/australia/name-21656-en.php

2006 CANBERRA, Australia, March 16 — Australian Sen. Christine Milne (Greens-Tasmania) issued the following news release:
The coal industry’s plan to fund research into its own greenhouse gas emissions is long overdue but it reflects self-interest and is not a serious commitment to address climate change, Australian Greens climate spokesperson Sen. Christine Milne said today.
US Fed News (2006) AUSTRALIA: COAL INDUSTRY’S GREENHOUSE FOCUS IS SELF-INTERESTED SPIN US Fed News 16th March

March 7,2012 – George Christensen wants Gina’s money for defense of NQ Way of Life’

Bloody greenies. Probably getting money for their pagan attacks on our precious bodily fluids and sacrosanct way of life from foreigners. Moscow. Or Beijing. Or Cuba (subs, please check).  Only vigorous and brave – and funded- action can stop them!  In 2012 North Queensland Liberal MP George Christensen wanted to launch an organisation to counter the ‘the radical Green movement.’  He emailed Gina Rinehart.

According to Laurie Oakes

Christensen wrote: ‘One quick thought was to hold a major rally “In Defence of the North Queensland Way of Life” in Mackay where we would encourage people in farming, fishing and mining to descend on the town for a mass show of support against the southern Green interests. If this was to be successful, we could then quickly move this movement into a formal blue collar/workers organisation that advocated for the North and against the greenies.”
There was a need to act quickly, he said, but the plan could only succeed if Rinehart and others like her got behind it. Not surprisingly, the email, dated March 7 [2012], specifically mentioned financial support.
Oakes, L. 2012. Gina and Clive are Labor’s best assets. The Australian, 26 May.

 

Also on this day-

1991 Environment Minister Graham Richardson claims that Australia’s greenhouse commitment was “the most progressive policy, I might say, of any nation in combating the threat of greenhouse climate change.”
Senate Hansard 1439

1996 1996 at Ad Hoc Group for the Berlin Mandate,
On 6th or 7th “TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO said Brazil’s proposal on QELROs provided a logical way forward and Germany’s proposal provided impetus to the work of the AGBM. He said the gas-by-gas approach is the simplest and most effective, and expressed surprise at Australia’s idea of equity. Each country could propose an idea of equity that suits its own needs.”

AGBM ENB on REPORT OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE AD HOC GROUP ON THE BERLIN MANDATE: 5-8 MARCH 1996

2001 Environment Minister Robert Hill’s plan for Australia to be a bridge between US and Europe squashed b the Greenhouse committee- (see Hordern AFR report 16 March 2001)

2006 Opposition Leader Kim Beazley releases an energy policy.  If you listened carefully, you could hear Rudd breathing down Kim’s neck.  By the end of the year it was on…. Beazley releases energy policy. ABC, 7 March .

 

March 3, 1990 – Report: “Energy efficiency could save carbon, and $6.5bn a year”

In June 1988 a conference in Toronto had flagged climate change as a Really Serious Thing and suggested that rich countries cut their emissions so poor countries could grow theirs a bit (but also argued everyone was going to have to change their ways) The ‘Toronto Target’ was for  a 20% reduction in rich countries emissions by 2005. .  That contributed to a growing awareness of climate change in Australia.  In mid-1989 then Environment Minister Graham Richardson had tried to get this through Cabinet. Then Treasurer Paul Keating put the kibbosh on that.  But the wheels were turning. In late 1989 a-CRA (now known as Rio Tinto)-funded report found the costs of the Toronto Target would  be enormous.  On this day in 1990 a report called “A Greenhouse Energy Strategy”,  commissioned by the Federal Environment Department and written by Demi Greene Associates, was released, and found otherwise…

“AUSTRALIA could save money and drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gas if it became energy efficient, a report released yesterday revealed.

The report, A Greenhouse Energy Strategy, commissioned by the Federal Environment Department, found that by the year 2005, Australia could reduce its carbon dioxide output by almost 19 per cent on 1988 levels, resulting in annual savings of $6.5 billion.

Mealey, E. 1990. Energy cuts could save $6.5bn a year. Sun Herald, 4 March, p. 37

Also on this day-

2014 ” Climate Change Authority (Abolition) Bill 2013 is voted Down: The Senate votes against abolishing the CCA for a third time. This Bill will no longer proceed” (source)

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 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.