Tag Archives: Robert Hill

9 June, 2011 – Productivity Commission

 

On this day in 2011, at the height of the Gillard ETS battle, the  Productivity Commission produced a report.  It had been a condition of two independent MPs – Windsor and Oakestott – supporting Gillard’s minority government.  The report looked internationally at emissions reductions policies and found “much lower-cost abatement could be achieved through broad, explicit carbon pricing approaches, irrespective of the policy settings in competitor economies.”  So, not so much support for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s “Direct Action”…

[see Garnaut 2014, chapter in Quiggin ed book on carbon taxes..]

 

 

Also on this day

Clark, P. 1989. Unions may as well be talking to the trees. Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June, p13

AN ODDLY portentous scene was played out behind the closed doors of the ALP national executive’s last meeting in Canberra on June 9 by two of the party’s toughest right-wing figures: the Federal Environment Minister, Graham Richardson, and the AWU general secretary, Errol Hodder.

Hodder, who had left the executive meeting briefly, returned to be told that while he was away Richardson had spoken of how the union movement had to reassess its position on the environment, and that someone present had said that the ACTU’s attitude on the issue was “stupid”.

Never backward in coming forward, Hodder leapt up to make a strong defence of the union movement’s reaction to the growing importance of the environmental debate.

What he said, in essence, was that the unions were well aware of the significance of the issue but the Government had to recognise a few things too. A tree might be a pretty thing to look at, but the view palled when you’d been put out of a job and you’d a mortgage to pay and a family to feed.

1990    (TEXT FROM 1997 APH chronology) The first assessment report of the IPCC Working Group I  was released including predictions of global warming and climatic impacts (a supplement was added in 1992). The best estimates from Working Group I (scientific  analysis) were a 3C rise in global temperature and a 0.65m sea level rise by 2100. Australian scientist Dr Greg Tegart was a Co-Vice-Chairman on the Climate Change, The IPCC Impacts Assessment report from Working Group II. Consensus was also reached at the Response Strategies Working Group of the IPCC, Working Group III. The Scientific and Impact Assessment reports concluded   that emissions from human activities were increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, which  was likely to enhance the natural greenhouse effect resulting in global warming.

By 9 June 2000, The Australian was reporting that the trigger proposal ‘faces defeat when it reaches Cabinet’ and that when the issue was discussed by Cabinet, ‘Senator Hill was almost a lone voice of support.’ (Macintosh, 2007: 50)

2005 press conference Carr and Howard –

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you’ve made progress on water, you’ve got a national scheme to (inaudible), same thing for carbon trading, for emissions trading?

PRIME MINISTER: Well we have, at the present time Mr Carr and I and the other States I think line up, the States line up with Mr Carr and we have just different views. Now let’s be sensible, we don’t agree all the time, but the important thing is to agree as many times as possible and to deliver outcomes that are good for the public.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how highly do you rate global warming as a threat? The Premier rates it very highly.

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, I’ve said in the past that I think the scientific evidence is very, very strong. I don’t know that I embrace every expression of concern that’s come from everybody who would favour some different policies than I do, but I have a different view about signing the Kyoto Protocol from that of Mr Carr, but that is based not on a belief that we shouldn’t reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, it relates more to the comparability of treatment of an economy such as Australia and that of such Indonesia and China. But that is for a discussion for another day. We have agreed to disagree on that issue, but we haven’t come here to parade with rhetorical flourish our different approaches.

 

Marks, K. 2010. Australian billionaires take to the streets for tax protest. The Independent, 10 June.

Australian billionaires take to the streets for tax protest

It was, by any measure, a most unusual rally. Many of the placard-waving protesters gathered in a Perth park wore suits and ties, and impassioned speeches were delivered from the back of a flat-bed truck by two billionaires, including Australia’s richest woman.

June 4, 1992 – Australia signs the UNFCCC treaty

On this day, 25 years ago, Ros Kelly,  Australia’s Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment and Territories signed the United Nations climate change convention (It’s rumoured she was so keen that she almost signed for Afghanistan. Unlike most world leaders, Paul Keating, Prime Minister since December 1991 didn’t attend.

You can read more about Australia and the UNFCCC in my short piece on The Conversation (link goes up tomorrow).

According Matt McDonald, 2005 Fair Weather Friend  “The opposition’s delegate to UNCED in 1992, for example, had criticized the Labor Government’s willingness to give away Australia’s sovereign rights and had emphasized the debilitative economic costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” CPD, Senate, 4 June 1992, p. 3350.

Also on this day
Anon, 1989. Environment focus of global TV show. Canberra Times, 4 June p. 3.
SYDNEY: Australians play a part in a television program on the environment to be seen live in almost 100 countries today.
Our Common Future, based in New York, will bring celebrities and world leader together to spearhead the push towards environmental awareness.

1996 – Cabinet says nope… Callick, R. 1996. Coalition backs industry on climate change. The Australian Financial Review, 5 June, p.2.
Australian industry has applauded the Federal Cabinet’s decision yesterday to oppose a targets and timetables approach to international climate change negotiations, made on the eve of World Environment Day today.
The Howard Government’s position effectively reaffirms that taken by the Keating government and its minister for the Environment, Senator John Faulkner.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, the Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, and the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Warwick Parer, said in a joint statement: “Australia will insist that the outcome of current international negotiations on climate change safeguards Australia’s particular economic and trade interests.” Mr John Hannagan, chairman of the Australian Aluminium Council’s major policy group, said industry welcomed this statement, “reinforcing its no-regrets position as its negotiating stand at the forthcoming Geneva talks”.

1998 http://23.101.218.132/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC19980604025
It is amazing how up to the mark the Hon. R. S. L. Jones is. This very day, Thursday, 4 June, the New South Wales Premier, the Hon. Bob Carr, signed the first carbon credit trade in Australia as part of an innovative program tackling greenhouse gas emissions and creating new jobs in New South Wales. Today the international finance company Bankers Trust and resource consultants Margules Groome Poyry certified the trade. This is the first time in Australia that major players in the finance and resource sectors have backed a carbon sink plantation in Australia.

2001 John Faulkner and Nick Bolkus grill Gwen Andrews and Robert Hill on the Don Burke adverts

Campbell, C. 2007. Back to the future with ad blitz. Canberra Times. 25 June.
In the next fortnight just as Parliament has risen for winter a $23 million climate change campaign will be broadcast, mailed, and plastered in newspapers. It’s not the first. In May 2001, the viewing public enjoyed a six-week ”burst” of ads on the greenhouse effect featuring gardening guru Don Burke. It cost almost $5million. On June 4, 2001, in the hush of Senate committee room 3, floor 2, in Parliament House, Canberra, a Greenhouse Office bureaucrat revealed, ”In a six-week period, we had 425 60-second advertisements, 375 30-second advertisements, 660 15-second advertisements and a further dozen advertisements, and my figures seem to have some problem qualifying whether those were 60 or 30 seconds.” The same officer revealed that post-campaign research of 1000 respondents showed that 88 per cent of respondents considered the greenhouse effect to be a real problem and only 9 per cent considered it a myth.

May 30, 2007 – Kevin Rudd promises 60% by 2050 reduction…

Referring to Kevin Rudd’s  An Action Agenda for Climate Change, Annual F2007 05 30 rudd action agenda for climate changeraser Lecture, Belconnen Labor Club, Canberra, 30 May 2007 (Australian Labor Party, Canberra: 2007).
Macintosh, (2008, page 52) notes that 

“The Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd, promised a more progressive approach. It pledged to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, establish a target of reducing Australia’s emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050 and create an emissions trading scheme by 2010.”

Also on this day

1995 AMIC begins to rebrand itself as the Minerals Council of Australia…

Davis, M. 1995. Mining Council does post-Mabo revamp. BRW, 29 May

1996

Callick, R. 1996. Greenhouse tax off the agenda, Hill tells miners. The Australian Financial Review 31 May.

The Federal Government’s promise of no new taxes included carbon and other so-called greenhouse taxes, the Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, told the Minerals Council of Australia in Canberra yesterday.

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 29, 1998 – Australia signs the Kyoto Protocol

So, after getting a super generous deal, Australia signed (as distinct from ratifying) the Kyoto Protocol on this day 19 years ago, with Robert Hill (Minister for the Environment) doing the deed in New York.

Hill signs historic agreement to fight global warming, media release, 29 April, 1998.

 

Also on this day

1997 “THE CHALLENGE FOR AUSTRALIA ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE”  29 April 1997 http://www.acola.org.au/climate2.htm

Australian Academy of Science, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Australian Academy of the Humanities, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, 1997 – Science – 127 pages

April 25, 2000 “Beyond Kyoto: Australia’s efforts to combat global warming”

On this day Senator the Hon Robert Hill,  spoke at a meeting of the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change in Washington. The title –  ‘Beyond Kyoto Australia’s efforts to combat global warming’.

As the man said – “The road to policy agreement is paved with good intentions, the road to implementation is lined with the potholes of reality.”

The Liberals had continued the ALP’s hostility to an international climate regime, and amplified it.  Hill had gotten a “good” deal for Australia at the 1997 Kyoto conference – a 108% emissions “reduction” target (i.e. an increase), and – crucially – a land-clearing clause that effectively increased that 108% to about 130 percent.  Hill had apparently refused to attempt to get 118%, and is well-regarded by environmentalists known to this author.  Hill had signed the Kyoto Protocol for Australia in April of 1998. Later that year it emerged that Cabinet had decided not to ratify unless the USA did.  In April 2000 the US Presidential election was still 7 months away. It was an election where Al Gore would win the popular vote, but lose in the Supreme Court. So it goes.  Bush pulled out of Kyoto, and Australia followed in 2002, by which time Hill had been moved from Environment to Defence…

April 17, 1993 – A carbon tax? Don’t be a mongrel

 

The pre-history of pricing carbon (it didn’t start in 2006) is a fascinating thing.  If you’re a geek like me, that is…

“The Prime Minister, Paul Keating, and the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, have denied knowledge of alleged Treasury proposals for a $1.9 billion energy tax.

“Mr Crean rejected reports in The Weekend Australian and The Age on Saturday [17 April] which suggested that a tax on the energy content or fuels and possibly carbon emissions, being discussed by Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, had drawn on studies by the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.”

Brough, J. 1993. Keating, Crean deny energy-tax proposal. Canberra Times, Monday 19 April, p.3.

This turned into a full-blown battle in late 1994/early 1995.  Everybody knows the green guys lost…

Also on this day- 

2000 The “High Level Forum on Sinks” was held in Perth from April 17-20 2000.

Australia is preparing to host a major international meeting of environment ministers to broaden global acceptance of forests as a source of carbon credits. But the meeting comes at a time when the ability of forests to actually generate these credits is increasingly in scientific doubt…..

Hordern, N. 2000. Australia pushes carbon sinks. The Australian Financial Review, 3 March, p.16.

Oh, and they stacked it –

Australia is being accused of deliberately “stacking” a conference of international environment ministers in Perth next week in a bid to undermine the global goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions….

Australia has invited ministers from around the world, but stands accused of inviting only countries sympathetic to its own position on sinks.

Germany and other European countries which are of the view that overuse of sinks could encourage countries not to reduce emissions have been left out.

Clennel, A. 2000. Greenhouse Gas Conference `stacked’. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April, p.15.

Meanwhile, on the same day it is reported that

“Federal Labor is preparing a major push for the green vote at the next election by toughening its stance in key areas including greenhouse gases and mining in national parks. A draft of its revised policy platform also commits the party to establishing a new independent watchdog, the Commissioner for the Environment.”

2000 Robinson, M. and Clennell, A. 2000. Labor To Push Tough Policy For Green Vote. Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April, p.7.

Yes, well, there was a bit of a blue in Hobart later that year. Can’t have everything.  They went to the 2001 election with a reasonable green policy.  And… Tampa.

2001 “Hill was introduced at an April 17 climate change conference in Washington, organised by the Pew Center, as representing the country with the closest position to that of the US. According to the April 21 Melbourne Age, Hill “waffled at every question suggesting Australia was conveniently hiding behind the US withdrawal because it never really supported Kyoto”.” https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

2005 A unique multidisciplinary conference entitled ‘Science and ethics: Can Homo sapiens survive?’ was held at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra on 17-18 May. See Canberra Times article.  It was about Frank Fenner.  The answer? Pretty obvious, 12 years later…