Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

I’ve written at Public Polity about the way Fringe Benefits Tax on vehicles can provide an incentive for private vehicle use.

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Greg Hunt must think calling people Hitler is going a (small) step too far:

“Saddam Hussein has destroyed a RAMSAR listed wetland, Penny Wong and Kevin Rudd are about to join unique company,” he said.

Nice to see a politician who is happy to take his talking points from an unscrupulous hatchet man like Piers Akerman:

The former Soviet Union killed the Aral Sea, the fourth largest inland body of water; Saddam Hussein destroyed the marshes at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, the largest wetlands ecosystem in the Middle East – and the ALP soon may have to take ultimate responsibility for killing the Murray-Darling, Australia’s largest river system.

Each of these three environmental disasters was caused by humans and each could have been prevented.

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Conservative think-tanks:

Our analyses of the sceptical literature and CTTs indicate an unambiguous linkage between the two. Over 92 per cent of environmentally sceptical books are linked to conservative think tanks, and 90 per cent of conservative think tanks interested in environmental issues espouse scepticism

Environmental scepticism is an elite-driven reaction to global environmentalism, organised by core actors within the conservative movement. Promoting scepticism is a key tactic of the anti-environmental counter-movement coordinated by CTTs, designed specifically to undermine the environmental movement’s efforts to legitimise its claims via science. Thus, the notion that environmental sceptics are unbiased analysts exposing the myths and scare tactics employed by those they label as practitioners of ‘junk science’ lacks credibility. Similarly, the self-portrayal of sceptics as marginalised ‘Davids’ battling the powerful ‘Goliath’ of environmentalists and environmental scientists is a charade, as sceptics are supported by politically powerful CTTs funded by wealthy foundations and corporations.

Conservative groupthink-tank:

Yesterday I noted that the Chaser had a map of Australia with a single pink dot to indicate the last global warming sceptic in Australia.

Reader John has kindly mocked up a graphic for a T-shirt or bumper sticker for the many readers who yesterday demanded they be struck pink, too

The antidote.

Kim has kicked off an interesting discussion of the origins and appeal of climate change denialism at Larvatus Prodeo.

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The GG are going all out to discredit Peter Garrett and tag Kevin Rudd for another backflip relating to Labor’s position on Kyoto. Says the Editor-at-Large:

Welcome to Labor’s climate change policy chaos. While John Howard can be attacked for not ratifying Kyoto, he does more importantly have a post-2012 policy that is sensible and his minister, Malcolm Turnbull, does know what it is.

Except, of course, that Turnbull apparently doesn’t agree with the pre-2012 policy. Kelly also writes off Kyoto as a failure (if so, which is questionable to say the least, the US and Australia have helped to make that so), asserts that Australia is leading an “umbrella group” of industrialised nations (leading toward “aspirational targets”, and leading from the rear), and suggests that Garrett’s position threw away any coherent negotiating position, but that Rudd’s reframed position is a “me too” of Howard on climate change.

Shanahan (with Patricia Karvelas) gets into the act as well:

China’s President Hu Jintao and US President George W. Bush both agreed to the Sydney declaration on greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Garrett’s concession on not seeking binding targets on developing countries would allow China to back away from the Sydney declaration and avoid binding targets from the UN process on climate change beginning in Bali in December.

Except that the Sydney declaration did not commit anyone to binding targets anyway.

Labor certainly hasn’t been handling climate change well and Garrett is not putting in a flawless performance, but the GG’s assertion that Team Howard has a coherent and world-leading position that will inevitably bring us toward binding emission targets for all is nonsense. If you’re going to smack a party for internal contradictions and flawed policy positions, have the decency to apply the same approach to all parties.

There’s more discussion on this going on at Larvatus Prodeo, where the consensus appears to be that this is, and should be treated as, a minor issue rather than a major gaffe.

Meanwhile, Mark Vaile has made his own contribution of climate change skepticism, demonstrating just what leadership the Coalition can be expected to provide on this issue.

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Team Howard must be wishing they had sent out a memo asking all Commonwealth Government departments to lay low for a while.

First, Mick Keelty emerged from the woodwork to say he never thought there was much of a case against Mohamed Haneef:

Asked if he had told the DPP of his concerns, Mr Keelty replied: “Oh, yes.”

However, that was why the DPP existed, Mr Keelty said – to be independent of police in pursuing prosecutions. “Mine was an opinion that I expressed to the DPP, but I understood all the time that the prosecutor was independent of me and independent of the investigation and needed to come up with a view for himself.”

Which doesn’t quite explain why he was out there noting that Haneef may still be charged after the case had already fallen apart and Haneef was on his way back to India – although Slim at the Dog’s Bollocks has a plausible hypothesis.

Then, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has blocked a freedom of information request from Peter Garrett on political grounds:

“In my view, given the current political context in which this request was made, it appears likely the documents have been sought by the applicant to assist with his political campaign in the lead-up to the impending federal election,” Fiona Macdonald, executive director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said.

So, we have one attempt to create new scrutiny of the handling of the Haneef case, and one attempt to block scrutiny of environmental management. Neither of them are good news for Team Howard. Add to that the ongoing questions about the Howard-Cheney arrangements regarding David Hicks, and Team Howard is very close to losing control of their message during this second week of the campaign.

Keep it up, Commonwealth Government.

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Someone forgot to tell Andrew that his preferred PM is backing desalination – despite the energy costs that he readily acknowledges.

I’m also not sure where Andrew wants to put the two dams he proposes you could build in Sydney. The fact is, there are few easy solutions for the Sydney Basin – it has limited space, declining water supplies, and a growing population.

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Team Howard Vice-Captain Peter Costello has begun the formal process of setting out his broader leadership credentials, identifying an issue that he would treat as a priority upon receiving the TH captaincy:

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello says desalination should be used to boost water supplies in all capital cities, with him listing the water crisis as his top priority.

A Murray-Darling Basin Commission report released yesterday found that water storage levels are at record lows.

Mr Costello says more has to be done.

“We have to fix the water crisis,” he said.

“This is now very serious. We have a situation where our capital cities are running out of water and I think we should have a desalination plant for every capital city in Australia.”

First of all, Peter, you might want to try to link the problem and your proposed solution a bit better. Desalination plants in every capital city don’t do much to address the problems in the Murray-Darling Basin, which is largely made up of inland, agricultural areas.

Mr Costello has praised the West Australian Government for its commitment to desalination.

Second, I’m not so sure that Team Howard Captain John Howard will be entirely pleased that you’ve backed an initiative that is already being addressed by at least two state governments – West Australia, as you yourself acknowledged, and New South Wales, where Morris Iemma has held to the need for a desalination plant despite some fairly strong opposition. South Australia is already moving on this as well – maybe you’re hoping that Premier Downer can help you cut the ribbon?

He acknowledges the technology is energy-intensive but says it should be widely adopted.
“The whole of the Middle East by the way is running off desalination,” he said.
“All of those Emirates in the Middle East – desalination is a proven technology.
“It can produce water, you may have a problem with the power source,
but it’s proven technology and I think its something that Australia
will have to embrace.”

Perhaps, but you’re hardly leading the way on this issue. And you are not addressing the issues in a coherent way – desalination would need to go hand in hand with dealing with its energy requirements (e.g., by promoting the increased use of renewable energy), and while you might be wading into the populist issue of dealing with drinking water supplies in the capital cities, you are going to have to address the problems of drought and the crisis for farmers to have a meaningful water policy.

Keep on trying, Vice-Captain Smirk – you’re bound to look like a leader sooner or later.

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Garrett going great Gunns: NOT!

Headlines are funny things. They have to be punchy and eye-catching, but in an ideal world, they should be informative as well. The ABC News site has done a fairly dodgy job with this one:

Garrett admits to pulp mill opposition: Govt


If you were to read that quickly while skimming the site or your RSS aggregator, you could be forgiven for thinking that Garrett just stated that he wants to see the pulp mill plans blocked. What actually happened was not quite as clear as that:

Mr Garrett is reported as saying a Rudd Labor government would try to ensure that high conservation value forests are not used to feed the mill.

It’s those last four letters in the headline that are the key – apparently, as in the scene from Borat with the humour coach talking about “NOT!” jokes, that short modifier is what makes the whole thing work:

Federal Forestry Minister Eric Abetz says the comments show Mr Garrett is desperate for the Tamar Valley pulp mill not to go ahead.

“His suggestion that it should rely on plantation feedstock flies in the face of CSIRO scientist Chris Beadle’s information that there isn’t enough plantation stock in Tasmania to feed a pulp mill,” he said.

“In those circumstances, what Peter Garrett is doing is simply sounding the death knell for the pulp mill.”

So, Abetz has mashed together Garrett’s statement and this article by Beadle (writing his personal views and not as a representative of the CSIRO), has conveniently ignored statements such as this:

Gunns would not comment last night but has argued there would be no extra harvesting of Tasmania’s forests and that within five years the mill would source 80per cent of its wood from plantations.

and, with some help from the ABC web reporters, ends up painting Garrett as being clearly against the mill and, consequently, against the CFMEU. In reality, of course, Garrett is hopelessly conflicted and waiting to be pressed into action by Malcolm Turnbull. I’m not sure which situation is the optimal one, but appearing to have made a decision while remaining indecisive or unwilling to make any announcement is probably the worst of both worlds for Peter Garrett.

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You gotta know when to hold ’em …

In a battle for his own re-election, with the prospect of the post-election leadership of his party within reach, one thing seems clear about Malcolm Turnbull’s delaying approach to the Gunns pulp mill: he’s either going to hit big or miss big. And Peter Garrett could well be wedged between a rock and a hard place in the process.

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