Tag Archives: Outlook Conference

Feb 4, 1998 – economic modellers get wristslap for excluding greenies

On this day 19 years ago the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) got a slap on the wrist.  Years earlier they’d started asking for $50k per annum to be on a steering group that oversaw the development of the “MEGABARE” economic model.  This model was used to justify Australia’s diplomatic efforts to cut itself a very cushy deal in the international climate negotiations.  MEGABARE ‘showed scientifically’ that Australia’s economy was unique and that any abatement efforts would cause the sky to fall.  Who had been ponying up the $50k per annum?  Disin1998-02-04terested and public-spirited groups like the Australian Coal Association,  Rio Tinto, the Business Council of Australia.  When the Australian Conservation Foundation asked to join the board in May 1997, with the $50k waived, the ABARE boss said ‘terribly sorry, no can do’.  So ACF complained to the Ombudsman in June and the Ombudsman investigated and – waiting until after the Kyoto meeting of the UNFCCC – released a report saying that ABARE had opened themselves up to the perception of bias.

To quote the press release,  “The Ombudsman’s investigation also concluded that:

  • The composition of the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees did not adequately conform to the characteristics of a government steering committee dealing with an important – and controversial – public policy matter. In particular that the development of the steering committee did not ensure a balance of views and technical skills.
  • The membership fees were exclusionary in their effect.
  • It was not appropriate for ABARE to use the term ‘steering committee’ to describe the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees.
  • ABARE’s intentions for the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees would have been more appropriately characterised at the outset as ‘sponsors committees for funding representatives’. However, the use of the term ‘Steering Committee’, and the associated explanation as to its role allowed an ambiguity and the possible creation of an expectation of membership influence on issues affecting public policy.
  • The greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies are an important matter of public policy and any steering committee or consultative process should include a balance of community interests.

Ms Smith said: ‘ABARE now concedes that it should not have used this fund raising mechanism if it had known the ‘misunderstandings’ and ‘political use’ that would be made of the funding arrangements.”

 

For more on this, see Clive Hamilton’s 2001 ‘Running from the Storm’ and a 1997 Honours Thesis by one R. Duncan.

Also on this day –

Oh look ABARE’s 1993 outlook conference was happening five years earlier.

At the conference, the boss of Woodside Petroleum said it was time for a ‘reappraisal’ of Australia’s greenhouse policies.

…. and perhaps even argue for a national increase in greenhouse gas emissions instead of a cut….

Mr Allen said “emotional media and political treatment” of the greenhouse issue had obscured the real problem. While it was clear greenhouse was happening, he said, there were many scientific uncertainties about its magnitude and speed.

Mussared, D. 1993. Increase Australia’s greenhouse emissions: Woodside. Canberra Times, 5 February, p.13.

and at the same conference

“A senior ABARE minerals economist, Mr Barry Jones, told the Outlook ’93 conference yesterday that the measures announced in the Government’s Greenhouse Response Strategy would not be enough to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions by 2000 compared with 1988 levels, or to cut them a further 20 per cent by 2005.” and that if it wanted to reach those goals, the Federal Government would have to consider unpopular measures such as a carbon tax…

Garran, R. 1993. Rethink needed on greenhouse.  The Australian Financial Review, 5 February, p.7.

 

Feb 3, 2010 – Tony Abbott meets Lord Monckton (no photos though!)

On this day seven years ago, the newly minted Opposition Leader Tony Abbott did some dog-whistling more subtle than his March 2011 debacle.  As Bernard Keane perceptively notes –

“Tony Abbott’s decision to meet Lord Monckton was contemptible — but smart politics. Abbott is just doing what he has been hired to do: dog-whistle to the extreme right of the party. Tony Abbott met with conspiracy theorist Chris Monckton yesterday at lunchtime, but Abbott wouldn’t allow photographers to record the meeting or publicly comment on what was discussed.”

Keane, B. 2010. Abbott to the lunatic fringe: it’s OK, I’m one of you. Crikey, 4 February.

Monckton visited again, the following year.  We’ll come back to that…

 

Also on this day –

1994 – John Daley (not Daly), not yet executive director of the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network, attends the ABARE ‘Outlook 94’ conference, and, in the words of Simon Grose, hack for the Canberra times, warns that  warns that

“Australia and the developing economies of the world could bear an unfairly high proportion of the costs of controls on greenhouse emissions in the event of any global agreement to adopt uniform emission-reduction targets”

Grose, S. 1994. Unfair burden’ on Australia. Canberra Times, 4 February, p.4.

1995 In the context of a probable/possible carbon tax, Senator McMullan gives a speech at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne “The levy will be dealt with on the basis of its appropriateness as a measure to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rather than on the amount of revenue it might raise…. What we need to avoid is any situation where we unilaterally place a wide range of export and import-competing industries at a competitive disadvantage without actually contributing effectively to reducing global or domestic greenhouse emissions.”

Gill, P. 1995. Official warns of small cut in gas with carbon tax. The Australian Financial Review, 7 February, p.3.

2009 At the  end of the Climate Action Summit  in Canberra, activists encircle Parliament