Tag Archives: Peter Walsh

April 11, 2001 – John Quiggin eviscerates the Lavoisier Group.

John Quiggin is a take-no-prisoners economist who isn’t afraid of a fight.  In 2001 he had an article entitled “Wishful thinking of Walsh’s true believers” in the Australian Financial Review. You can read the whole thing here, but these are the choice bits.

Along with a range of right-wing luminaries, [Peter Walsh, Hawke’s Treasurer] is a leading figure in the grandly-named Lavoisier Group. This body is devoted to the proposition that basic principles of physics, discovered by among others, the famous French scientist Antoine Lavoisier, cease to apply when they come into conflict with the interests of the Australian coal industry.

and

The Lavoisier Group serves one useful social purpose. There are always participants in the public debate who will happily put forward any proposition that supports their position, whether or not it has any basis in fact and logic. The arguments of such commentators should be discounted appropriately, but it takes time and effort to identify them on an individual basis.

The Lavoisier Group has collected a number of prominent commentators who indicate, by their membership, that they are prepared to rely on wishful thinking whenever it suits their turn. These true believers in fairies at the bottom of the garden should be accorded the credibility they deserve.

Also on this day- 

On 28 February 1997  Federal Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill announced the release of a discussion paper, ‘Future Directions for Australia’s National Greenhouse Strategy’, prepared by the Intergovernmental Committee on ESD with a deadline for submissions of 11 April 1997.

March 24, 2004 – “Coal 21” plan launched

On this day in 2004 the Coal21 national plan was launched

It had been knocking about for a bit – see this

Hennessy, C. 2003. Future Of Coal Looks `cleaner’. The Newcastle Herald,13 September

ANY “sunset” scenario for the Hunter’s coal industry would be a cleaner one, industry leaders said yesterday.

Using Coal21, a paper put together by the state and federal governments as a starting point, panellists looked at whether the billion dollar industry had a use-by date a “sunset”.

NSW Minerals Council executive director John Tucker said many in the industry believed the move to more diverse energy sources would start to occur in big numbers in 40 to 50 years.

and was part of the whole “technology will fix it, if it is in fact a problem” mentality which is still alive and quivering in 2017, at least in the more scientifically illiterate corners of the Coalition parties and its cultural supporters.

The plan itself, which talked about a voluntary levy on coal exports to fund research into ‘clean coal’, was attacked

Day, A. 2004 Coal research `just a hand-out. Australian Financial Review, 25 March.

Taxpayers will fund half the coal industry’s initial research into greenhouse gas reduction in a move environmentalists and opposition parties say is “corporate welfare” that focuses too much on non-renewable energy sources.

Federal resources minister Ian Macfarlane said the government would pay $500,000 to the coal industry’s research into lower-cost sequestration the storage of waste carbon dioxide in saturated underground rock and other methods….

Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett said the decision to subsidise coal industry emission research as part of the government’s COAL21 project was corporate hand-out at the expense of regulatory and market-based measures.

“Low-emission coal technology cannot achieve the deep cuts that are necessary to ensure Australia is able to shoulder its share of the burden for reducing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases,” he said.

The ALP and Greens also condemned the plan as unbalanced and undermining renewable energy solutions.

and then defended

O’Neill, M. 2004. Coal industry’s plans to clean up its act should not be lightly dismissed. Canberra Times, 30 March.

And only two years later, when climate change “burst” onto the Australian public policy did that levy kick in. And even then… ah, but this is for another day…

 

Also on this day- 

1990 Federal Election – climate barely mentioned, but Libs did have stronger policy.  Not that it did them any good…

“The backlash against environmentalists began very publicly on election night. Peter Walsh launched a bitter attack on them from the tally room, attempting to deny any influence they might have had on the outcome. He was joined in later weeks and months by a number of Cabinet ministers, largely but not exclusively from the economic portfolios, but careful evaluation of that election result makes Walsh’s assertion untenable.

Malcolm Mackerras (The Australian, March 1, 1993) summarises the result well: on the primaries, the Coalition had 43.5 per cent to Labor’s 39.4 per cent, the Democrats 11.3 and others 5.8 per cent.

However, Labor’s environment second-preference strategy was so successful that the two-way party preferred vote became 50.1 per cent for the Coalition and 49.9 per cent for Labor (which just fell over the line to win in seats).”

Toyne, P. 1993. Environment forgotten in the race to the Lodge. Canberra Times, 8 March p. 11.

1995  The Australian  published (page 10) a story by Julian Cribb with the title  Greenhouse theory ‘still uncertain’. It began –

AUSTRALIA’S top science bodies say much uncertainty remains over greenhouse warming predictions despite claims by Argentinian researchers that Antarctica’s ice shelf has begun cracking up.

Current increases in global temperature cannot be linked with certainty to human action, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering caution in a joint report released yesterday.

That report?  Simon Grose of the Canberra Times reported the following day

Grose, S. (1995) Industry seeking energy solutions Canberra Times Sunday 26 March

 

The report has the backing of a steering committee with representatives from a wide range of organisations including the Institution of Engineers and the World WideFund for Nature, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Business Council of Australia, BHP and the Department of Environment Sport and Territories.

I have a copy somewhere. Doubtless depressing-with-the-benefit-of-hindsight stuff… Oh well…

2011 legislation was “introduced for a carbon offset to create incentives for carbon avoidance projects in the land sector: The Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011 creates the Carbon Farming Initiative which is the first scheme of its kind globally.”

 

Feb 23, 2009 – Penny Wong crashes and burns on CPRS

Ah, 2009 – such japes, as the Rudd government, trying to deal with the fall out of the Global Financial Crisis and other crises of its own making also had climate change, that pesky ‘great moral challenge of our generation’ on its to-do list…  And all was not going well, as journalist Simon Butler noted –

Under pressure from the mounting criticisms about how the CPRS cancels out the benefits from individual emissions reductions, Wong responded on the ABC’s 7.30 Report on February 23 that individual reductions will allow the government to increase carbon targets in subsequent years.

This prompted an incredulous response from Andrew Macintosh, associate director of the Australian National University Centre for Climate Law and Policy. “Either Wong doesn’t understand her own scheme or she is deliberately lying”, he wrote on Crikey.com.au on February 24.

Butler, S. 2009.Emissions trading- how to avoid action on climate change. Green Left Weekly, 28 February.

On 2nd March 2009, Wong was on the receiving end of a letter from 65 Climate Action Groups.  Come back for more on that then…

 

Also on this day –

In 1993 Peter Walsh, who had been in Hawke’s Cabinet and decided climate change was a pinko-scam, launched another spray in the Fin. Trust me, it’s not worth reading…-

Walsh, P. 1993. Putting Greenhouse in order. Australian Financial Review, 23 February p. 17

 

In 2002, Labor, having lost the 2001 election for reasons OTHER than its support for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, warned that “Bush’s `gift to polluters’ could end up costing the US plenty and Australia, too, if the Coalition insists on following the President’s lead.”

Macken, J. 2002. Kyoto: Counting the costs, Australian Financial Review 23 February

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 8, 2013 – Prime Minister Gillard connects heatwave and climate change

As the website Climate Citizen puts it

On Tuesday January 8 [2013] the Bureau of Meteorology released an interim special climate statement on the Extreme January heat Australia is currently experiencing. Record temperatures both day-time maximum and night-time minimums continue to be broken. The extraordinary heatwave has also been the scene for catastrophic fires, especially in Tasmania. The Prime Minister Julia Gillard saw the devastation in Dunalley and among her many interviews and press conferences made a brief statement connecting the intensity of bushfires with climate change.

But of course, you’re not supposed to be able to link weather phenomena to climate.  That would be a fundamental attribution error…  Except, of course

See also the Guardian‘s take on it.

Also on this day-

Peter Walsh, finance minister under Hawke, and later to be a founding member (president?) of the Lavoisier Group takes an early pop at climate science (he’d been at it for a while already) in the Fin.

BACK in 1989 a proposal to spend $6 million on an Australian response to the greenhouse effect and climatic change was being considered. The 1990 Budget Papers identify another $17 million for climate change core research and “multifaceted programme initiatives” – which presumably includes funding various national and international greenhouse conferences so beloved by greenhouse activists.

He also in this article cites approvingly John Daly’s ‘The Greenhouse Trap’…

Walsh, P. 1991. Credibility Gap in Greenhouse Gabfests. Australian Financial Review, 8 January, p.7.