Tag Archives: Ken Henry

May 8, 2007 – Costello ducks and weaves about Ken Henry’s advice on emissions trading…

The climate debate was getting very hot in early 2007 in Australia.  Gore had come and gone, Stern was about, the drought went on, and Kevin Rudd was yapping… at everyone’s heels.  So, the thorny question of what advice had the Howard government previously ignored about climate change was one that could not be answered straightforwardly without incurring some political damage (and there was an election pending…).  It is in this context that the repeated refusal of Treasurer Peter Costello to give simple answers to an ABC reporter on the question of when Treasury Secretary Ken Henry had pushed for an emissions trading scheme (Costello knew full-well – he’d been part of the group that had tried to get it through in July-August 2003, only to be personally vetoed by Honest John Howard).

Also on this day-

Cox, G. 2001. Overheating Australia needs ‘wake-up call’. IOL 8 May.

Canberra – Pressure mounted on the Australian government on Tuesday to resume international climate change talks after a report by a government agency foreshadowed a dramatic surge in temperatures in the next 70 years.

Australia’s key government research organisation, the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), predicted a drier and hotter Australia, with average temperatures rising by up to six percent by 2070.

“Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are the culprit,” head of CSIRO’s atmospheric research group Peter Whetton said in a statement.

2015 New and reduced Renewable Energy Target released: The RET is announced as 33,000 gigawatt hours, or 23.5%, of the estimated electricity generation for 2020.

March 14, 2007 – The Australian Public Service feels ignored on #climate change…

So throughout the 1990s and the first half of the naughties various ‘policy entrepreneurs’ (Ian Dunlop, Phillip Toyne, Robert Hill, Bob Brown, Bob Carr etc etc) tried to get a price on carbon institutionalised.  Without any success – John Howard, ably assisted by Nick Minchin and the ‘Greenhouse Mafia’  blocked every effort. It must have been slightly aggravating, what with a ‘price on carbon’ being a kind of no-brainer as part (not all, part) of the toolkit for a transition.  And on this day in 2007 (yes, there will be a lot of 2007 in this project – it was a Big Year)- the head of the Australian Public Service, Ken Henry (ask him about a Resources Tax sometime…) gave a speech at an APS internal biannual departmental forum at Canberra’s Hyatt Hotel.  He noted that the department had

“worked hard to develop frameworks for the consideration of water reform and climate-change policy…. All of us would wish that we had been listened to more attentively over the past several years in both of these areas. There is no doubt that policy outcomes would have been far superior had our views been more influential.”

The story leaked, natch, onto the front page of the Australian Financial Review, on 4th April, in an article by the estimable Laura Tingle and added to the woes of the Coalition Government, which looked like (and had been) ignoring the bureaucrats….

2007 Tingle, L. 2007. Revealed: Treasury chief’s blast at government policy. The Australian Financial Review, 4 April, p.1.

Also on this day-

1997 – Senator Parer seems to be an exception. For instance, at the Australasian Institute of Minerals and Metallurgy Annual Conference at Ballarat Senator Warwick Parer said: “I don’t have any figures to back this up, but I think people will say in 10 years that it [greenhouse] was the Club of Rome” and “The attitude of this government is to look for ways to allow projects to go ahead.” The SMH (14.3.97 ‘Greenhouse effect? No worries says Parer’.).
(Duncan, 1997:83)

Anon. 2001. $4.1m commonwealth grant offer for NSW R&D gas project. M2 Presswire.
“The Commonwealth Government has offered Sydney Gas Company N/L research and development grant totalling $4.1 million for a coal gas project that will provide Australia with a major environmentally friendly and clean energy source close to its most populous area, Industry Minister Nick Minchin said today.”

2013 Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation’ report released:
“The Productivity Commission (PC) report identifies policy and regulatory barriers to Australia’s ability to respond or adapt to climate change. The report provides recommendations for building adaptive capacity.”   Yes, and I am sure every single one of those recommendations has been turned into SMART goals that are being implemented as you read this sentence. Oh yes.