Tag Archives: Nick Minchin

May 24, 1994 – Labor Foreign Affairs Minister on the UNFCCC

I’m as happy to bash the Howard government (1996-2007) for its egregious record of environmental vandalism as the next guy.  But let’s not pretend, please, that the Labor governments before and after them were wonderful.  This, from 23 years ago, showed Labor in less than full-throated commitment to what it had signed two years previously.  By the end of the year, they’d be openly talking about withdrawal…

 

Gill, P. 1994. Minister signals change of policy on greenhouse gas. The Australian Financial Review, 26 May, p.6.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Evans, has thrown doubt over a long-standing Federal Government position on greenhouse gases in a move which will alarm the business sector.

The doubts on Australia’s response to the UN Climate Change Convention were compounded by Senator Evans’ admission that Australia had recently been “rolled” on its tough stand on the Basel convention on hazardous wastes.

At a Senate Estimates Committee hearing on Tuesday [24th May], Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth asked: “Has Cabinet agreed that Australia will not implement measures under the climate change convention which would damage our competitiveness, unless other countries also do so?”

Senator Evans replied: “It is premature to be drawing conclusions. Cabinet has not addressed the issue in those terms and it would be premature of it to do so.”

But Cabinet has considered the Government’s greenhouse gas response in those terms and the business sector has drawn some encouragement from the Government’s position that Australia’s economic growth would not be compromised by its response.

 

Also on this day

The Lavoisier group held a workshop which had been postponed from the highly appropriate date of  1st April  (Taylor, L., 2000, 11 April). This provoked a media release –Dinosaur business group is an embarrassment” from Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace Australia

Media release – May 24, 2000

Australian environment groups have united in condemnation of a greenhouse meeting in Melbourne today, labelling it an embarrassment to Australia.

The meeting of the newly established “Lavoisier Group” is a move to discredit climate change science and bring together business groups in opposition to limiting greenhouse pollution.

These ‘climate sceptics’ fly in the face of the hundreds of global business players who gathered at the World Economic Forum’s Annual meeting in Davos this January. This business group resolved that climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world at the beginning of the century.

Speaking from the meeting today, Greenpeace Political Liaison Officer, Shane Rattenbury said; “This is an embarrassment for Australian industry. These people are five years behind the facts.”

Meanwhile, the BCA kept firing warning shots…

Keep the Finger Off the Greenhouse Trigger: BCA

24 May 2000

The Business Council of Australia today called on the federal government to develop a framework for a mature and productive debate about the establishment of a greenhouse trigger and other greenhouse measures.

The BCA’s Executive Director, Mr David Buckingham, said the differing views expressed earlier this week by federal Cabinet ministers graphically illustrated the need for such a debate.

“It is transparent the trigger has some very real issues associated with it, including the potential adverse impact on investment, jobs and regional development,” Mr Buckingham said.

 

 

Labor sent out a media statement too.

Government Fails The Greenhouse Challenge Nick Bolkus – Shadow Minister For Environment

Media Statement – 24 May 2000

“The government needs to put an end to its internal bickering on Greenhouse and start making some much needed progress towards meeting our targets” said Senator Bolkus today.

This morning’s report in the Australian Financial Review represents a wake up call to the Federal Government. Unless we get serious now, the next set of targets imposed on Australia will be a lot more onerous.

“With emission levels already some 19% over 1990 levels, how does the Government expect to deliver on its international Kyoto target commitment to constrain emissions growth to 108% over 1990 level?” said Senator Nick Bolkus, Shadow Minister for the Environment.

Today’s news shows quite starkly that the Government programs are not meeting the challenge, that the Government is not serious, and that to date Senator Hill has been concealing the truth. It was only a few weeks ago that he was telling the Senate that Australia would meet our targets.

“It is a myth that emission reduction will hurt the economy” said Senator Bolkus. “Efficiency improvements will strengthen the economy and make us more competitive. Investing in sinks will help combat salinity which is costing us billions each year.”

“Indeed, ABARE’s own research shows that under a very conservative costing analysis of greenhouse response, 85% of Australian industry will benefit.”(*)

“What Senator Minchin has failed to tell us is what it will cost us not to do anything. How much will we lose when the Great Barrier Reef is destroyed from coral bleaching within the next 40 years? How much will it cost to lose all our ski fields by 2070?(**)

Even the World Business Council on Sustainable Development has singled out Australia and highlighted our status on greenhouse:

“Australia has some specific challenges to deal with on climate change… Australia now needs to meet the targets and then be prepared to go further.”(***) ●

This Government has lost the bigger picture and is failing the Australian community.

(*) Evidence presented at the Senate Inquiry into Global Warming by the Sustainable Energy Industry Association (**) These scenarios based on CSIRO modelling (***) WBCSD-BCA Forum in Melbourne (May, 2000)

http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media/pressrel/FDK16%22

The whole thing got picked up by Lenore Taylor in the Fin.

Industry groups yesterday began a public campaign to back the Federal Industry Minister, Senator Nick Minchin, and the deputy Prime Minister, Mr John Anderson, who are fighting to quash Senator Hill’s greenhouse trigger plan.

Taylor, L. 2000. Industry adds its weight to oppose greenhouse move. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

 

Meanwhile,

Strutt, S. 2000. Mining blasts Queensland freeze on coal-fired energy. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

Moves by the Queensland Government to slash greenhouse gas emissions, including a freeze on new generating licences for coal-fired power stations, have been condemned by the mining industry amid widespread predictions of a hike in electricity prices…. But Mr Beattie said the industry had to realise it was a “political certainty” the Federal Government would move to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions in the near future.

Ha ha ha ha.

 

May 23,1980 Senator worries about climate change impacts…

On this day in 1980, a Liberal (yes, Liberal) senator from South Australia, Don Jessop, talked about the dangers of climate change in the Australian senate.  The whole lot is here.  And below a clip…

Senator JESSOP (South Australia) – “I also welcome the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Bill 1980 and will make a few brief remarks about it….

“The first article, entitled ‘World ecology is endangered’, is from the Melbourne Age of 16 April, and deals with an examination by a panel of internationally recognised scientists. They told the United States Congress: . . that the world could face an ecological disaster unless the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere is controlled.

The second article is older, having been written on 28 February 1977. It is entitled ‘Heating Up: Global Race for Antarctic’s Riches’, [From  U.S. News & World Report] and I wish to have only highlights of that article incorporated in Hansard.

We knew. Or should have. We blew it.

Jessop?  Came acropper in 87.  Grattan, M. 1987  SA Libs demote Hill, drop Jessop. The Age, 9 June. p 3

Also on this day

2000-

Senator Hill had been ambushed. It appears neither he nor his staff were aware the trigger proposal was likely to face such fierce opposition in Cabinet….  The anti-greenhouse, anti-trigger camp did not stop at this. The following day [23 May 2000] senator Minchin presented research he had commissioned from Dr Brian Fisher of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), a critic of the Kyoto Protocol, which found that meeting Australia’s Kyoto target could cost between 0.5 per cent and 1.4 per cent of Gross National Product at 2010. The fossil fuel lobby used this research as a springboard to back Anderson’s and Minchin’s position, suggesting the trigger would have significant adverse economic implications. Dick Wells, the executive director of the Minerals Council of Australia, was quoted in the Australian Financial Review as saying, ‘[w]e agree with John Anderson that the trigger would harm employment and regional growth…..

(Macintosh, 2007: 50)

2000 Taylor, L. 2000. Industry adds its weight to oppose greenhouse move. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

Industry started a strong campaign against the Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill’s, proposed greenhouse trigger yesterday. This follows a fiery Cabinet discussion on Tuesday [23rd] over new greenhouse measures proposed by the Senator.

The Federal Cabinet is understood to have reached a clear understanding on Tuesday that no extra greenhouse requirements should be imposed on the proposed $1billion Kogan Creek power station in Queensland.

It rejected a memo from Senator Hill that the project be forced to invest in greenhouse-abatement projects to offset its own emissions. However, a spokesman for the Environment Minister said the Cabinet had not made a final decision.

Taylor, L. and Skulley, M. 2000. Cabinet clash on greenhouse. The Australian Financial Review, 24 May, p1.

Federal Cabinet faces a showdown over greenhouse environmental issues after ministers yesterday heard alarming predictions that meeting Australia’s emission targets could significantly cut economic growth and boost fuel prices.

The Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, and the Minister for Industry, Senator Nick Minchin, both entered Cabinet yesterday armed with new evidence about the extent of Australia’s greenhouse problems.

Economic research commissioned by Senator Minchin found that forcing industry to meet Australia’s targets under the Kyoto international greenhouse agreement could reduce gross national product by up to 1.4 per cent in 2010.

(MINCHIN COMMISSIONED BRIAN FISCHER TO DO ANOTHER SKY FALL DOCUMENT)

 

 

2013  Ian Dunlop in Canberra (riff on BHP?)

 

 

 

 

May 17, 2005 Robin Batterham quits Chief Scientist gig for full-time Rio Tinto post…

Prime Minister of Australia (1996-2007) John Howard never got a briefing from the head of the Australian Greenhouse Office, Gwen Andrews. He didn’t even see the need for a full-time scientific adviser. And the one he did have worked simultaneously for mining giant Rio Tinto. Where Howard’s nephew was chief of government relations.  This is how the game is played.  On this day, twelve years ago, that Chief Scientist called it a day.

Australia’s Chief Scientist gives up Govt position for mining giant
AM – Tuesday, 17 May , 2005 08:28:00
Reporter: Karen Barlow
TONY EASTLEY: Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Robin Batterham has decided to accept a full time position with mining giant, Rio Tinto.
The Federal Government says Dr Batterham was instrumental in encouraging investments in science and raising science awareness among the broader community. But Labor and the Greens claim his scientific advice was swayed by industry.

Also on this day-

Frew, W. 2007. Minchin denies climate change man-made. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 March.
A SENIOR Federal Government minister has expressed serious doubts global warming has been caused by humans, relying on non-scientific material and discredited sources to back his claim.
One month after a United Nations scientific panel delivered its strongest warning yet that humans were causing global warming, the Finance Minister, Nick Minchin, has questioned the link between fossil fuels and greenhouse gas pollution.
In a letter he wrote on March 5 to Clean Up Australia’s founder, Ian Kiernan, Senator Minchin took issue with Mr Kiernan’s criticism of the minister’s scepticism.

May 5, 2000 – BCA hints at a voluntary emissions scheme….

So, Australia had wangled a sweet deal at Kyoto in December 1997 – a 108% emissions ‘reduction’ target AND a giant loophole clause on land-clearing.  They’d signed it in April of 1998, but later that year it emerged that the Cabinet had decided it wouldn’t ratify unless Uncle Sam did.  At this point (May 2000) it wasn’t entirely clear what would happen.  In any case, the whole idea of emissions trading was on the rise, and David Buckingham, a bureaucrat who had been head-hunted first by the Minerals Council and then had switched to the Business Council gave a speech –

Buckinhgham, D. 2000. Strategic Greenhouse Issues for Australia. Business Council of Australia

http://www.bca.com.au/media/strategic-greenhouse-issues-for-australia

which suggested a voluntary domestic emissions trading scheme might be a goer, as a learning by doing exercise.

On the same day, Environment Minister gave a speech on ‘the role of Australian business in combatting global warming’-
Hill R. 2000. Warming to the Challenge; The Role of Australian Business in Combatting Global warming. Address to the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and the Australian Business Council Forum, Melbourne, 5 May.

What happened next?  Hill lost his bid to get carbon trading through cabinet in August of the same year, defeated by Nick Minchin.  The BCA said nope to emissions trading, and to a ‘greenhouse trigger’ in the EPBC Act, and fought itself to a standstill over Kyoto Ratification in 2002/3…  So it goes…

Also on this day

1973  AMIC advert for an environmental policy officer in Canberra Times (nothing in their newsletters etc about climate change – I looked)

1990 Australian Coal Association conference dominated by environmental issues

 

 

 

 

1990 Australian Coal Association conference dominated by environmental i

April 19, 2001 – Kyoto is popular with Aussie voters? Oops…

Howard had never wanted any kind of emissions reductions target, even the generous ones negotiated at Kyoto.  So, Bush pulling out in March 2001 gave him space.  He wouldn’t actually announce that Australia was doing likewise until after the 2001 Federal election.  Conviction politicians – donchajustlovethem.

“The difficulty for the Howard government is that its position on climate change is deeply unpopular and will cost it votes at the next federal election. A survey commission by Greenpeace Australia and released on April 19 found that 80.4% of respondents believed that Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, without the US if necessary.

The Greenpeace survey drew an angry response from industry minister Nick Minchin. “I think it’s irresponsible to be pushing this line without informing people how many jobs will be lost”, he said in an April 20 media release.

“ABARE [the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics] estimates that, even with the most optimistic assumptions, the costs to Australia of meeting the Kyoto Protocol commitments would be significantly more than a severe recession and several times that of a major drought”, Minchin said.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

Also on this day-

19 April 2013: Climate Spectator points out mysteries, questions and problems after Greg Hunt’s address to ANU. The Government also releases a detailed line by line rebuttal of Greg Hunt’s speech. (From Mark Butler’s ‘Direct Action’ timeline)

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.

March 5, 2011 – “Wingnuts coming out of the woodwork”

2011 was a very very interesting year for Australian climate politics. And a bloody one. Kevin Rudd’s failure to get his Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme through parliament,and his decision to shelve it, had caused a drop in his popularity. After a battle with miners over a mining tax (they spent $22m on a’Keep Mining Strong’ campaign’), he was replaced as Labor leader (and Prime Minister) by his deputy Julia Gillard in June 2010. During the subsequent election campaign she had said there would be ‘no carbon tax under a government she led’. Usually- but not always – she added that her government would look at a price on carbon. Whoops.

The price of support from Green and Independent MPs in the subsequent hung parliament was… a price on carbon. Gillard then mangled the labelling of that policy, most spectacularly on 24 February 2011. Tony Abbott, by then Opposition Leader, can surely not have believed his luck. Recently his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, has admitted what everyone knew – the Gillard ETS was not, in fact, a carbon tax.

At the time, well… on this day that year, elder-journalistman Laurie Oakes, he of the “hierophantic condescension” had this to say

“Wingnuts are coming out of the woodwork. The mad and menacing phone calls to independent MP Tony Windsor are just one indication. There are plenty of others online. The carbon tax and Tony Abbott’s call for a people’s revolt have crazies foaming at the mouth. You see it on the ‘Revolt Against the Carbon Tax’ Facebook page, for example. Like this message from a Gillard-hater about a rally in front of Parliament House being planned for March 23: ‘Just like Egypt we stay there and protest continuously until she and her cronies, Bob Brown Greens etc are ousted! We have got to get rid of this Godless mistress of deceit.'”

Oakes, L. 2011. Loonies latch on to the politics of hate. Daily Telegraph, 5 March.

 

Also on this day

2004  The Australian National Audit Office issues a report that basically skewers the Australian Greenhouse Office (see March 4 blogpost for the background to the establishing of the AGO…)

2007 Senator Nick Minchin writes to Clean Up Australia’s founder and disses – quelle surprise-  climate science  (see Wendy Frew, 15 March 2007.)