Tag Archives: John Faulkner

April 24, 1994 – A Carbon Tax is floated…

It is forgotten history, but in 1994/5 a carbon tax – a small one, mostly for R and D rather than outright emissions reductions – was on the cards.  There’d been some to-ing and fro-ing in previous years, but on 24 of April 1994, shit got real.

“Senator Faulkner said yesterday the plan was a long-term aim but made it clear he was serious about the move.
“All I can say is that I’ve suggested already to some of my ministerial and Cabinet colleagues that I am interested in pursuing the issue of economic instruments,” he told the Nine Network’s Sunday program.”
Peake, R. 1994. Faulkner floats energy tax. Canberra Times, 25 April, p.3.

 

Also on this day

2007Snow joke!
Australia’s biggest renewable electricity source, the Snowy Hydro power scheme, may have to shut down major generating turbines due to the nation’s crippling 10-year drought.
In a desperate attempt to keep running, the Snowy Hydro operator said on Tuesday it had turned to cloud seeding to boost water inflows.
“It is unrealistic for anyone to think that the Snowy scheme could somehow have been immune from the effects of the current severe drought,” Snowy Hydro Ltd Managing Director Terry Charlton said in a statement.
Prime Minister John Howard last week asked Australians to pray for rain in the food bowl Murray-Darling River basin, an area the size of France and Spain that accounts for 41 percent of the nation’s agriculture.
Howard warned that without heavy winter rains in coming months, irrigation in the food bowl would be turned off as the worst drought for 100 years grips Australia.
In a move that local authorities feared could reduce supply of power to the capital Canberra, and major cities Sydney and Melbourne, some of Snowy Hydro’s operations could be stopped by May-July without heavy winter rains, the Snowy Hydro said.

Lewis, P. and Woods, J. 2012. Australians seeing through the feel-good mining ads. The Drum, 24 April.

The mining industry has been dusting off its chequebook again in the lead-up to the federal budget, with feel-good glossy ads in the weekend papers reminding us how much miners love Australia – or at least the bits of it they can dig up and export.

2014 Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper released: The ERF White Paper sets out the final design of the ERF, with a reduced emissions target of 421 million tonnes of CO2-e over the period to 2020, compared to 431 in the Green Paper.

 

April 8, 1995 – Australia ‘satisfied’ over not taking Berlin…

Australia went to the first meeting (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hoping to be able to scupper moves towards emissions reductions commitments for developed nations.  By 1995 it was clear that the ‘National Greenhouse Response Strategy’ agreed between the states and Federal government in December 1992 was worthless.  Faulkner had been involved in efforts to get a small carbon levy (‘tax’, whatever you want to call it) through Cabinet, if only to fund R&D into low carbon energy sources. That effort went tits up in February. Just before flying out to Berlin Faulkner had launched the “alternative” – Greenhouse Challenge scheme, which was not worth a bucket of warm spit.  Ultimately, Australia acquiesced to the ‘Berlin Mandate’ – the costs of (futile) intransigence simply too high.  Two years of attempts to get support for so-called ‘differentiation’ would follow…

LONDON, Saturday: Australian Environment Minister John Faulkner said yesterday he was satisfied with the outcome of the Berlin climate change conference, saying it offered a way forward for all countries to combat global warming. On the final day of the 11-day meeting, agreement was reached on a mandate for further negotiations on greenhouse gas emission reduction measures by developed countries. Senator Faulkner, who was part of the group of ministers who hammered out the final agreement, said it was ultimately a successful conference given the wide range of interests represented. “Australia’s very satisfied with the outcome of the group of ministers and the achievement of a mandate to negotiate a protocol,” he said from Berlin.
1995  Noack, K. 1995 Faulkner sees way forward from Berlin. Canberra Times, 9 April.

Also on this day.

2015  Energy White Paper released: The White Paper promotes increasing competition and production of energy, while reducing the cost of electricity. [a farce, basically. Not a funny one.]

March 29, 1995 – Greenhouse 21C launched, in aftermath of massive defeat for sanity

On this day in 1995, the Federal Environment Minister of Paul Keating’s government basically ran up the white flag.  The environment movement had tried to get a carbon levy/tax onto the statute box. They were defeated, comprehensively, by a very well-organised and strategically astute bunch of (fossil-fuel) industry lobbyists, who proposed a voluntary scheme instead. This became the ‘Greenhouse Challenge’, which is what John Faulkner, just before he hopped on a plane to the first meeting of the UNFCCC, in Berlin, held a press conference about.

I am pleased to announce the Federal Government’s additional greenhouse response package: Greenhouse 21C.

Greenhouse 21C delivers a whole of Government approach to climate change. My colleagues Brian Howe and Peter Cook have joined me today because there are some important measures in this response package which directly relate to their portfolio responsibilities. They will detail these measures shortly.

One of the critical elements of Greenhouse 21C is the active involvement by all stakeholders to successfully tackle the greenhouse challenge. Governments alone cannot deliver on climate change.

The active partnership between Government and industry is a significant feature of 21C. We expect that voluntary agreements will achieve in the order of 15 million tonnes of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000 – and more in the long term.

Greenpeace,licking its wounds from the November 1994 Redbank decision,  knew what was coming.;

Greenpeace’s climate campaigner, Mr Keith Tarlo, said the biggest single item was the $25 million program to promote clean coal technology in India.

“This is a scandal. (It) is a transparent attempt to promote the Australian coal industry and can only lock India into escalating greenhouse emissions,” he said.

Boreham, G. 1995. Industry Says Yes, Greens Say No To Emissions Policy. The Age, 30 March, p.3.

and

Greenpeace said the biggest item in the package was $25 million to promote “clean coal” technology overseas. This was really meant to boost Australian coal exports and the “clean” meant only low sulphur content, it said.

Shehan, C. and McCathie, A. 1995. Bid To Cut Gas Levels – But It’s Voluntary. Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March, p.3.

 Also on this day- 

2007- At roughly the same time personal carbon allowances/trading were gaiing tradction in the UK, former NSW Premier Bob Carr predicted carbon trading among individuals

Former New South Wales premier Bob Carr, who chairs the Climate Institute Advisory Council, says carbon trading may one day extend to individuals, not just businesses and governments.

Mr Carr told a Property Council seminar in Sydney this morning that a national carbon trading scheme in Australia is inevitable.

He says everyone will one day have a carbon entitlement.

“Every citizen a carbon credit, but if you use up yours by reliance on an inefficient, old-fashioned vehicle, for example, or a large quantity of household air-conditioning, you’ve got to buy your right to any further carbon,” he said.

 

And on the same day the Australian Government, led by John Howard, launched a Global Initiative on Forests and. Climate.  Which of course produced no actual benefits. So it goes.

Feb 13, 2006 – Four Corners report on the ‘Greenhouse Mafia’

The ABC investigative journalism programme Four Corners broadcast a hair-raising documentary on “Greenhouse Mafia,” the network of focussed and determined industry lobbyists who had taken over the policy advice system of the Howard government on climate and energy issues.  This documentary was based on the extraordinarily good PhD thesis of Guy Pearse, whose ‘High and Dry’ should be compulsory reading, in my opinion. The programme also looked at what happened to CSIRO scientists who tried to do their job – of studying and explaining the impacts of climate change.

You can read the full transcript via here.

 

Also on this day

1995 – Environment Minister John Faulkner announces on 2GB radio (Sydney) that the proposal for a carbon tax/levy is toast-

“I’ve indicated that it’s just not going to go forward…. As far as I’m concerned a greenhouse levy is off the agenda.”

Anon, 1995. Australia govt drops plans for carbon tax-minister.  Reuters, 14 February.

 

 

 

 

Feb 10, 2011 – Climate Commission is launched

The Gillard government knew that selling climate action was going to be tricky, after the cynicism-building wreck that was Rudd’s CPRS, and the rise of organised and well-funded denialism. It was in this context that it set up the Climate Commission (as distinct from the Climate Change Authority, which came later as part of the CEF package.). The Climate Commission did public information events and released lots of reports. And Tony Abbott, when he came to power, made it his first action to abolish it. A crowd-funding campaign worked wonders, and the Commission lives on. But that’s a story for another day –

 

Also on this day-
According to  it Ellis and Gill, it was on this day in 1995 that then Environment Minister Senator John Faulkner decided that a carbon tax/levy/whatever you want to call it was not worth taking to Cabinet after all, because it would get squished by the Bob Collins of this world –

“THE Minister for the Environment, Senator Faulkner, has abandoned proposals for the introduction of a carbon tax ….  His decision was made on Friday [10th February] after two days of talks with environmental and business groups.”

Ellis, S. and Gill, P. 1995. Faulkner calls off plans to impose carbon tax. The Australian Financial Review, 14 February, p.3.

In 2006, before climate change had become the public topic it would later in the year be, the Council of Australian Governments held a meeting on this day.   Australian Conservation Foundation tried to chivvy them along, with this press release.

COAG meeting a chance for real progress on climate change
Date: 9-Feb-2006
The Australian Conservation Foundation has urged Commonwealth, State and Territory leaders to use tomorrow’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra to craft a consistent, national approach to climate change.
“A global problem requires a global solution,” said ACF Executive Director Don Henry. “It’s vital we get Commonwealth, State and Territory leaders pulling in the same direction on this.

“It’s good to see COAG talking about climate change. They can make some real progress on measures that will make a difference.
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/13467/20120118-0823/www.acfonline.org.au/articles/newse312.html?news_id=712

(A COAG Working group had been set up previous late May/early June, according to this – “ACF calls for national deep cuts target on greenhouse” (11-Jun-2005)

Jan 18, 1993 – ‘Greens Jobs in Industry Plan’ of ACTU and ACF…

On this day 24 years ago the faint hopes of ecological modernisation in Australia got a boost. As a article in Green Left Weekly reported

“A major new effort to develop jobs which protect the environment”, was how the January 18 joint statement by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Conservation Foundation described their joint Green Jobs in Industry Plan. The scheme was launched at the Visyboard Paper and Cardboard Recycling Plant in Melbourne by Peter Baldwin, minister for higher education and employment services.”

Noakes, F. 1993. ACTU and ACF launch green jobs program. Green Left Weekly, 27 January.

Norton in his  2004 PhD thesis is sanguine, and  points to the tensions between the ACTU and ACF over woodchipping (and presumably the carbon tax, though he doesn’t mention it) sending the union/environmentalist relationship into the deep freeze for a good decade or so…

Basically, if you want to have new industries (not based on ripping stuff out of the ground, then you need a highly educated workforce and conception of the state that is more open to ‘picking winners’ (rather than protecting rent-seekers indefinitely). It’s not easy, but Australia has it seems never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  So it goes.

Also on this day –

1995 – a story based on a leak of documents that purported to be Senator Faulkner’s carbon tax proposal but ACTUALLY came from his opponents gets front page billing and leads to fulminating editorials in the Fin and the Sydney Morning Herald.  Dirty tricks… work….

“FEDERAL Cabinet is considering a series of controversial measures to cut greenhouse emissions, including a carbon tax of up to $20 a tonne, which would raise $13 billion over three years, and an extra 10c/litre fuel excise.

“The proposals – detailed in a Cabinet document obtained by The Australian Financial Review – are set to generate massive industry hostility, and to switch the environmental spotlight from Mr Beddall, the minister responsible for the woodchip controversy, to the Minister for the Environment, Senator Faulkner, and his departmental deputy secretary, Mr Phillip Toyne, who is masterminding the greenhouse strategy.”

Callick, R. 1995. Revealed: Green tax shock *$13bn grab *$20/tonne carbon tax *New 10c/litre fuel levy. Australian Financial Review, 18 January, p.1.

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…