Tag Archives: John Faulkner

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…

Jan 16, 2006 – Liberal Treasurer supports a carbon price. Or does he?

On this day in 2006, the then Australian Treasurer, and presumptive heir apparent to the Prime Ministership, Peter Costello made a speech in Los Angeles, supporting price signals for energy.

“A market based solution will give the right signal to producers and to consumers. It will make clear the opportunity cost of using energy resources, thereby encouraging more and better investment in additional sources of supply and improving the efficiency with which they are used. That has to be good for both producers and consumers and better for the environment.”

These words were thrown back at him 7 months later by Labor MP Anthony Albanese, who in a press release on 16th August entitled “Costello & Howard at odds over emissions trading”.  This was at a time when climate change was exploding into public consciousness (thanks to the drought, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and so on.  Labor would continue to make political capital of this, increasing its tempo after Kevin Rudd toppled Kim Beazley as ALP leader in December of 2006. But back to Albo –

It is not surprising Peter Costello made this statement as in August 2003 a Cabinet submission to establish a national emissions trading scheme was co-sponsored by four Departments – Treasury, Environment, Industry & Foreign Affairs.

Unfortunately, the joint Cabinet submission was scuttled by the Prime Minister who is stuck in the past and unable to embrace the future.

Yes, that 2003 decision.  Something we will come back to…

Also on this day –

1992 The Australian Capital Territory’s first draft greenhouse strategy was launched.

Lamberton, H. 1992. Draft greenhouse strategy issued. Canberra Times, 17 January, p.5.

1995

“REPRESENTATIVES of a substantial group of Australian industries meet in Canberra today to draft a joint response to invitations issued by the Minister for the Environment, Senator Faulkner, for separate talks over the next fortnight on his carbon tax proposal”

Callick, R. 1995. Industry forces gather to slow carbon tax momentum. Australian Financial Review, 16 January, p.8.

2004- “Emissions trading scheme back on agenda for Australian states”

New South Wales state premier Bob Carr is backing a state-led greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme for Australia says a paywalled site. Presumably this was to announce the launch of the state-based National Emissions Trading Taskforce.

 

Jan 9, 1995 – Efficiency is better than a tax, says business. Of course.

Recycling the rather expensive NIEIR study they’d commissioned in 1992 and launched at least twice in 1994,the Electricity Supply Association of Australia made a Federal budget submission on this day in 1995.  They argued that energy efficiency savings would outstrip the carbon tax then being proposed by Federal Environment Minister John Faulkner. Oh, and export industries (that’d be aluminium, a major consumer of ‘leccy) would be hardest hit.

Gill, P. 1995. Energy efficiency outstrips gains of carbon tax: study. The Australian Financial Review, 9 January.

The sky, it’s always about to fall…

And what’s this, exactly 9 years later, after the carbon tax was beaten and a ‘Greenhouse Challenge’ instituted instead….

Media Release from the Shadow Minister for Sustainability, the Environment & Heritage Member for Wills Friday, 9 January 2004

Scores quit Greenhouse Challenge

Seventy-seven companies dropped out of the Howard Government’s Greenhouse Challenge Program last year. By 30 June, 50 companies had left, according to the response to a Question on Notice I lodged in October, while another 27 companies left between July and December.

These companies left rather than comply with the reporting requirements of the Greenhouse Challenge Program.

It is increasingly clear that Australian companies are losing interest in reporting their greenhouse gas emissions, let alone containing them.

Companies are exiting the Greenhouse Challenge Program because the message they are getting from the Howard Government in not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol is that this Government is not fair dinkum on greenhouse.

They are taking the view that if the Government is not interested in the climate change issue, why should they bother making an effort?

The Howard Government’s Greenhouse strategy seems to be unravelling at the very time when the evidence says we need it the most.

Just yesterday the largest collaboration of scientists ever to study the impact of climate change on wildlife has concluded that climate change is the biggest new extinction threat.

I am today writing to the Greenhouse Office seeking a briefing on the extent of reporting compliance by companies signed up to the Greenhouse Challenge Program. The public is entitled to know how many companies are actually reporting their greenhouse emissions, and what these figures reveal.

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…