What a pity that those judges who saw fit to bestow upon Greg Hunt the title of ‘Best Minister in the World’ don’t read The AIMN. They may have reconsidered.
However, in our opinion Mr Hunt, without hesitation, is certainly worthy of an award. We agree on that. But the title we bestow on Mr Hunt is, well, worlds apart. We have the honour is announcing that Mr Hunt is the clear winner in the ‘Worst Environment Minister in the World’ category.
Unlike the judges in Dubai, we have the evidence to support this (un)worthy recognition.
Below is a collection of what we have had to say over the last twelve months about Mr Hunt. If you were stunned upon hearing the announcement when he was named the ‘Best Minister in the World’, you’ll be even more stunned as we recall his true form.
Please note that the transcript below is now ‘dated’, ie, it was not written in the present. Further, some of the activities may not have proceeded, but the focus is on Greg Hunt (and the government he represents) and his approval of these activities …
I concur with British peer Lord Devlin that the Abbott Government’s approach to climate change is “so unintellectual as to be unacceptable”. The good Lord Devlin, however, is undeniably better placed than me to offer that assessment; the former Conservative politician now heads Globe International, a legislator body that annually assesses laws to combat climate change.
Globe International reported that the Abbott Government is the only one of 66 countries studied that has tried to repeal national climate change legislation in the past year. This is indeed incredulous given that Australia is the biggest polluter per capita in the developed world.
Lord Devlin leads the chorus of condemnation coming in from the Mother Country. Just yesterday The Independent asked, Is Tony Abbott’s Australian administration the most hostile to his nation’s environment in history? With Abbott at the helm, ably assisted with his side-kick Greg Hunt – the alleged Minister for the Environment – the answer would be a resounding “yes”.
But the condemnation is not confined to British Lords or the British media. The whole world noticed that our government didn’t take all this climate change nonsense seriously when it was announced that no senior member of the government would be attending the international climate change summit in Warsaw last November. In spectacular fashion, Australia was “awarded Fossil of the Day on the summit’s first day. The award is given by the international Climate Action Network to the country which has done the most to block progress at the climate change negotiations on that day”.
- The sacking of the two department heads who were the driving forces behind initiatives to address climate change.
- The scrapping of the Climate Commission, which had been established to provide public information on the effects of and potential solutions to global warming.
- The Climate Change Authority responsible for investment in renewable energy abolished.
Lord Devlin was on the money. This is “so unintellectual as to be unacceptable”.
And now to Greg Hunt.
Environmentalists, and indeed most Australians are still reeling from Hunt’s decision to approve “several massive resource projects” on the Great Barrier Reef which include a new coal export terminal – projects that will see the dredging of 3 million cubic metres of spoil being dumped in the reef’s waters. This approval clearly ignores the evidence from scientists about the impacts of these industrial developments and activities on the reef. He has, quite clearly, “put the demands of the coal companies ahead of protecting the Great Barrier Reef.”
It is simply astounding that an Environment Minister would approve these projects especially amid warnings that the reef, which had already lost half of its coral cover in the past 30 years, would be placed on the “in-danger” list if there were major new port developments. Further warnings note that:
Dredging is a huge threat to the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Seabed and rock is dug up and then dumped in the Reef’s waters. Fine sediments are thrown up into the water and drift for kilometres, ruining water quality and covering seagrass beds and coral.
Just in the past five years, 52 million tonnes have been dredged in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, a recent Senate Inquiry was told.
Minister Hunt has since asked the UN’s World Heritage Committee to de-list 74,000 hectares of Tasmania’s wilderness and rainforests (refer to the Independent article).
And just in case anyone was left doubting Hunt’s disdain for environmental protection, he has laid that to rest, approving the development of one of the largest coal mines in the world.
The Carmichael mine will be developed by Indian power company Adani. Owned by an Indian billionaire, Adani are sourcing Australian coal to fuel the surging demand for electricity in India. They hope to begin exporting coal from the mega-mine in 2017.
The coal mine is simply gigantic – the largest Australia has ever seen, and one of the biggest in the world. Consisting of six open cut pits and five underground mines, it will cover an area seven times the size of Sydney Harbour. The initial stages require the clearing of 20,000 hectares of bushland, home to 60 threatened species of flora and fauna.
Around 60 million tonnes of coal will be sent to the Queensland coast every year by an accompanying $2.1 billion rail corridor, where it will be exported to India from Abbot Point via the Great Barrier Reef.
CO2 emissions from the combusted Carmichael mine coal are estimated at a whopping 128 million tonnes per annum, cancelling out any of the gains made under the government’s pathetic Direct Action policy. To put that figure in perspective, that’s equal to four times the amount that New Zealand emits in a year.
There were so many reasons not to approve this unprecedented development, both economic and environmental. Greg Hunt, however, was unmoved.
Of foremost concern – Adani’s alarming environmental track record. In India, they have been fined for illegally building on villagers’ land and destroying protected mangrove areas. They have been involved in the large-scale illegal export of iron ore, bribing officials, building an aerodrome without environmental approval, manipulating the approval process, ignoring environmental conditions and non-compliance with environmental monitoring.
Remember the Abbot Point controversy? Well, Adani were one of the companies behind that too. Adani owns the coal export terminal at Abbot Point. For the massive volumes of coal to be shipped overseas from their Carmichael mine, they need to expand the terminal to meet the surge in exports, which will see upwards of 450 extra coal ships travelling through the Great Barrier Reef every year.
Safe to say, this is bad news for the reef environment.
The proposed expansion of the coal export terminal requires three million cubic tonnes of seabed to be dredged, and dumped in adjacent waters within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Despite concerns within the GBR Marine Park Authority itself and UNESCO, as well as public outcry over the threat to the reef, Greg Hunt approved the dredging.
So toxic and unpopular is the Abbot Point dredging project, even international banks don’t want to be associated with it, with HSBC, Deutsche Bank and The Royal Bank of Scotland withdrawing funding. But despite this, the Australian government thinks it fine to go ahead.
Despite Adani’s woeful record, Greg Hunt is comfortable allowing them to operate in one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in the world. I am not.
The impact on groundwater has been a major cause for concern. When operational, the mine will extract 12 billion litres annually from local rivers and aquifers, in an agricultural region already prone to drought and dependent largely on water from bores. Hunt assures us that:
“The absolute strictest of conditions have been imposed to ensure the protection of the environment, with a specific focus on the protection of groundwater.”
In what we’ve learned to be the usual Greg Hunt response, he has slapped on a bunch of ‘Conditions’ and ‘Offsets’ to mitigate any environmental damage, 36 in this case, although a Senate enquiry has shown what rubbish these are.
The today, with the release of information on Tony Abbott’s green army, Mr Hunt promoted it as an opportunity to give “… every young person in Australia the chance to do something for the environment.”
I would suggest that this ranks amongst the most hypocritical of statements one would ever hear from a politician. Let’s recap Minister Hunt’s and his government’s recent record:
- Globe International reports that ours is the only government of the 66 studied who has tried to repeal climate change legislation.
- The government’s rebuttal of climate change is internationally recognised and reinforced by their disregard of the international climate change summit.
- The scrapping of the Climate Change Commission, the Climate Change Authority, and the sacking of department heads driving climate change initiatives.
- The approval of environmental vandalism of the Great Barrier Reef.
- The de-listing of Tasmanian wilderness from the UN’s World Heritage list.
- Approving the development of one of the largest coal mines in the world.
And now the green army is being endorsed as an opportunity to give ”… every young person in Australia the chance to do something for the environment”.
Oh come on now, don’t give us that crap.
In case you were wondering why we chose Hunt as the Worst Environment Minister in the World, spend a bit of time checking out other Environment Ministers and see if you can find one who’s worse.
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