Tag Archives: John Hewson

March 17, 2011 – Hewson says ‘Direct Action’ has (high) implicit carbon price

So this is how bizarre 2011 was.  Both Labor and the Coalition agreed they would act to reduce Australian emissions 5% by 2020.  The Labor lot, allegedly socialist, were going to use market mechanisms. The Coalition, ostensibly in favour of ‘free markets’ were going to us… an expensive government-funded set of incentives and regulations known (for the lulz) as ‘Direct Action.’ Yeah, go figure, #worldturnedupsidedown. In this context former Liberal leader John Hewson (the one who had refused to meet with Australian Conservation Foundation, back in 1992) explained to ABC’s Lateline “how direct action includes an implicit carbon price which is far higher than an ETS.” [At least according to this timeline by Labor’s Mark Butler MP. But the link provided goes through to a Garnaut interview!]

Also on this day-

Thorne, G. 2006. Carbon capture the key to cutting greenhouse gases.  Australian Financial Review, 17 March.- “Australia has the opportunity and responsibility to explore emissions-reduction technologies,” writes Grant Thorne, (managing director of Rio Tinto Coal Australia.)

2009 Bernard Keane’s excellent report on the Heartland Institute’s conference.  Really worth a read!

Feb 11, 1993 – neoliberalism and planet incompatible, who knew?

On this day, 24 years ago, the Liberal Party’s extreme ‘Fightback!’ policy got a doing-over on environmental grounds, shortly before the 1993 Federal Election (the unloseable one – the one then Liberal Leader John Hewson lost).

According to the director of science and technology policy at Murdoch University, Fightback would result in a six per cent increase in car use immediately, and 28 per cent in a few years.

The table shows that Australia is the third worst polluter in the OECD region and that our poor performance is very much related to low fossil-fuel prices.

If Australia is to get its carbon emissions down to a level comparable with other OECD countries, some form of carbon tax will have to be introduced.

International pressure to move in this direction is likely to intensify over the next decade.
Davidson, K. 1993. Hewson Error Of Emission.The Age, 11 February, p.13.

Also on this day-

Revealing story on what the CSIRO was up to (gutting its climate programmes, natch).

Chandler, J. 2006. Discarded scientists fail to grasp CSIRO logic. The Age, 11 February.

2011 Gillard’s Environment Minister Greg Combet releases info about the (large) Australian Delegation at the Copenhagen Climate Conference (COP15)

Feb 5, 2007 Tony Jones trolls John Howard on Lateline

Paul Kelly, in his excellent (if under-subbed) Triumph and Demise observes that John Howard’s (very) belated conversion to climate “action” (if you can call appointing a bunch of fossil fuel CEOs to a committee that is going to produce a report [aka the Shergold Report]) wasn’t going to solve his climate problem.  Kelly is robust (some would say ever-so-slightly right-wing)  but always a good read;

Howard’s problem was that he had changed his policy but not his political strategy. He refused to genuflect before the icons: Al Gore’s scare, the drought as proof of a climate transformation, and Kyoto sanctification. For the ABC, Howard was now a figure of undisguised ridicule. His Lateline interview of 5 February 2007 began with this mocking question from Tony Jones: ‘Can you recall exactly when it was that you ceased being a climate change sceptic and became, in effect, a true believer?’

(Kelly, 2014:131)

What Kelly doesn’t report is what happened later in the interview that revealed Howard might be completely on top of the implications of the issue…

At 10.25 last Monday night, 234,511 people nationally tuned in to the ABC and saw Tony Jones ask John Howard what he thought living in Australia would be like by the end of this century “if the average mean temperatures around the world do rise by somewhere between four and possibly more than six degrees Celsius”.

“It would be less comfortable than it is now,” was the Prime Ministerial response.

Tingle, L. 2007. Bear in mind threats of climate change. The Australian Financial Review, 9 February, p

 

Also on this day –

1992  In response to an Australian Conservation Foundation request to meet to discuss environmental matters in the context of the ‘Fightback!’ policy proposals, Liberal leader John Hewson told Philip Toyne and Peter Garrett that they could meet with his shadow environment minister instead, because they were ‘partisan’.  [This goes back to that January 15 1990 lunch meeting, which Paul Kelly wrote about in a much earlier book….]

Anon, 1992. Hewson snubs Conservation Foundation. Canberra Times, 6 February, p.4.

According to Labor Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler’s epic ‘Direct Action’ timeline, on  “5 February 2010: Danny Price in The Australian starts to back away from costings and admits direct action is not “sustainable in the long term”. “

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.