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The breathtaking hypocrisy of Environment Minister Hunt – an update

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”.

Back home, Tony Abbott had been Prime Minister for less than a week when we witnessed:
  • 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.

And now to Hunt.

In December I wrote “The breath-taking hypocrisy of Environment Minister Hunt”, and pointed out that:

Environmentalists, and indeed most Australians are still reeling from Environment Minister Greg 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.

And he 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).

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 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.

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.

Lord Devlin was on the money. This is “so unintellectual as to be unacceptable.”

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  1. Don

    Minister Hunt, portfolio environmental destruction, and the new Minister for slave labour, dig up all the minerals and coal leaving big holes behind, pollute the air with increased electricity from coal fired generators, poison all ground water from fracking, blanket the reef with dredgings for expanding coal ports, but don’t worry the new green army planting trees will save us.

  2. jasonblog

    Hunt is a bewilderment. He was actually somebody I once upon a time had a reasonable amount of respect for. He either had me fooled back then or he has completely sold himself out. Who knows? Who cares?

    Do we spend the next couple of years in mock anger at Abbott? Somehow pretending we actually give a muck…

    We knew it before the election & we’re only just having it confirmed.

    Abbott couldn’t give a rats about science or evidence based policy making.

    What George Orwell said about WB Yeats also fits nicely as a summary of Abbott:

    “Translated into political terms, Yeats’s tendency is Fascist. Throughout most of his life, and long before Fascism was ever heard of, he had had the outlook of those who reach Fascism by the aristocratic route. He is a great hater of democracy, of the modern world, science, machinery, the concept of progress…”

  3. johnward154

    America’s first carbon-trading program can boast some impressive numbers
    By John Upton

    How do you turn $1 billion into $2 billion, all the while helping to slow down global warming?
    By capping carbon dioxide pollution and charging for emissions permits, then plowing the revenues into clean energy and energy-efficiency programs.

    The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon-trading program that covers nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, charged power plants about $1 billion for the right to pollute the climate from 2009 to 2012. Of that, $707 million has so far been invested into green programs, and $93 million has been transferred into states’ general funds, according to a new RGGI report.

    Three-quarters of the investments have been used to help utility customers cut back on the amount of power that they use. Those efficiency improvements are eventually expected to save 800,000 households and 12,000 businesses more than $1.8 billion in energy bills.

    Spending on clean energy programs, such as solar panel subsidies, are expected to save an additional $73 million. And $122 million has been handed back to utility customers in the form of direct rate relief.

    Of course, carbon trading isn’t ultimately meant to be about turning a profit. It’s supposed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that end up in the atmosphere. And so far RGGI says it has reduced CO2 pollution by 8 million tons. That’s a difficult quantity to envision, so think about it this way: By 2012, power plants in the region were emitting 40 percent less CO2 than in 2005.

  4. Anomander

    In their rush to get rid of the ALP and their divisive leadership wrangles, did the Australian public never once consider the implications of voting-in these clowns? Or was it they simply didn’t care enough about our shared future?

    The propaganda peddled by the Merde-och press has been phenomenally effective in demonising anything “green” as adversely affecting the economy.

    Meanwhile, the remainder of the world moves onward, taking the lead and establishing policies. markets and mechanisms to support weaning ourselves off fossil fuels and making the transition to a low-carbon future. These nations will now have the upper-hand in technologies and developments as we go backwards, thanks to Abbott and Co. trashing our established foothold.

    When we finally realise the need and make the decision to adjust, it will be all too late. We will be buying the science from those lead nations instead of being at the innovation forefront.

    Our continued contribution to the problem will make it all the harder, and far more expensive to change because we will have to cut deeper and harder that had we continued on a moderate path.

  5. Kaye Lee

    “Tony Abbott’s top scientific and business advisers are at odds over the science of climate change with the chief scientist, Ian Chubb, strongly rejecting assertions that climate science is a “delusion” or a result of “groupthink”.

    Chubb said the scientific evidence for human-induced global warming was so overwhelming that those who reject it are usually forced to “impugn the messenger” with “stupid expressions like ‘groupthink’” or “silly” arguments that global warming is a “delusion”.

    The chairman of the climate change authority, Bernie Fraser, a former governor of the Reserve Bank, said he agreed with Chubb’s assessment of the compelling nature of climate science and said he thought those who did not accept it were either “mavericks at the fringes” or “those who speak in the short-term interests of industry”.

    And Fraser also took issue with the “uncivilised” nature of Australia’s climate debate, including “the wild assertions blaming every lost job on the carbon tax … assertions not based on any objective consideration of the evidence”.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/27/abbotts-advisers-at-odds-climate-change

  6. Kaye Lee

    The appointment last week of former Caltex chairman and prominent climate change sceptic Dick Warburton to head the panel had already ignited fears in the renewable energy sector that the government intends to slash the target of sourcing at least 20 per cent of electricity from clean energy sources by 2020.

    Mr Warburton, who collected $462,493 in his final year as chairman and non-executive director of fuel firm Caltex in 2008, said he had sold the 13,519 Caltex shares held at the time of his exit ”a long time ago”.

    Mr Warburton declined to say whether he or his family held any interest in fossil-fuel companies that might benefit from a reduction in the renewable energy target. ”I won’t answer any of those questions. It’s something that will be handled internally,” he said.

    The other two panel members – former Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics head Brian Fisher, and Matt Zema, head of the Australian Energy Market Operator – said they had both completed declarations of their interests prior to their appointment.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/disclosure-doubts-cloud-renewable-energy-target-panellists-20140224-33b6v.html#ixzz2uqExrV6r

  7. Lou phillips

    The most insulting thing you can call someone: “you’re a ghunt”. Says it all, really.

  8. scotchmistery

    So long as we apportion blame appropriately. The Australian Population of conservative voters, and the subset of that group, “morons not understanding the vote”.

  9. Stephen Tardrew

    Kaye the point is for all of these politicians it is ten years too late. We have known about the impact of global warming for twenty years however the only thing missing was a comprehensive model of climate. This is one of those paradoxes of science whereby Ockam’s razor says the simplest solution is the best yet simple solutions in complex systems that include chaos and and intricate feedback mechanisms is inordinately complex. However the body of evidence has been robust enough to make reasonable predictions for the last ten years all that was required was some fine tuning. This fine tuning gave the skeptics a lever from which to criticize the science from a position of statistical inaccuracy not negation of the facts.

    Scientist are there own worse enemy when they make their explanations dependent upon the statistics when though they have moved from 65% to 75% to 95% percent probability the skeptics used the notion that there are only proofs not truth and that scientists should produce 100% certainty which is impossible using statistical methodologies.

    Scientific illiteracy has put us in a position of potential disaster and though there are moves to reduce emissions the current forcing is going to be around for some one hundred years or more.

    Skeptics will eventually be reviled as intellectual dunderheads however much of the damage is done. The vilification of the poor, disabled, aboriginal people, single parents, youth etc. rests on the same sort of manipulation of the facts to suit political expediency. Deregulation of markets and self-regulation is another political fairy story that is causing untold suffering.

    The point is it is not just climate change but a whole raft of unsupportable nonsense that is, and will, cause untold suffering while the elite make a financial killing. Left and right are complicit in such falsifications of the facts. That so many scientist are caught up in the military industrial complex does not help.

    John Lord is right we desperately need a new political paradigm that draws evidence from scientific facts and propositional logic. I do not think the core precepts need to be complex they simply need to reflect the factual evidence as a basis for social modelling. Some may think it pie in the sky however what we are doing now is definitely not working.

  10. lmrh5

    Reblogged this on lmrh5.

  11. Pingback: The breathtaking hypocrisy of Environment Minister Hunt – an update | lmrh5

  12. Marg1

    Sent this on to email contacts – such sad, sad days for us at the moment.

  13. bjkelly1958

    Steven Tardrew is correct in his assertions, but we can’t cry over ten or more years of spilled milk. We must, as John Lord suggests and Steven supports, move to fact based policy making in lieu of the crazy ideological pattern we are currently seeing.

    I contend that we can reverse the “scientific illiteracy” in our nation. It will take commitment at Federal level and will need to be woven into the fabric of the national curriculum for future generations. The first step is to make the citizenry aware of the importance of science to their daily lives. For example, explain to them that if the use of glyphosate weed killers continue unabated then the pollinating insects will die out and the hops won’t be pollinated and they’ll have no beer. That may sound a little silly but to succeed in educating the “mob” you have to tie the knowledge to something tangible to which they can relate.

    However, be we can start on this, we have to get the current crop of no-hopers out of power.

  14. Scott MacGregor

    March in March or stfu

  15. jane

    Excellent post as usual, Migs, exposing the lack of intellect that infests the Liars Party beholden as they are to the rent seekers in the fossil fuel industry & big mining.

    We know that the Liars are completely allergic to anything fact & evidence based and that they are fully prepared to knuckle-drag this country back to the petrol & coal guzzling 1950s not only wrecking the economy, but the environment.

    What always amazes me is why the energy industry never bothered to get in on the ground floor wrt renewables. They seem to be as fossil bound as the raw materials they keep siphoning out of the ground, regardless of the fact that China and other countries are putting the brakes on coal consumption.

    Combine that with the gulags this government is running to “discourage” asylum seekers and we seem to have a perfect storm of stupidity, cupidity and cruelty, where countries like China and Iran feel free to criticise not only our human rights abuses but will also question our environmental credibility..

  16. Fed up

    “By capping carbon dioxide pollution and charging for emissions permits, then plowing the revenues into clean energy and energy-efficiency programs.”

    This is what Mr. Abbott is dismantling. Not just the legalization that funds it.
    Abbott is dismantling the means to lower carbon emissions within this country.

    He is preventing industry in this country from moving on to new, cleaner and more efficient techniques.

    Maybe there is an argument to offer the aluminum industries the means to build a new mill, using the latest, cleanest, cheaper and cheaper to bill aluminum foundries and mills. An action that would put us out in front of the world. Not lagging behind.

  17. Keith

    The Abbott gang are looking more foolish as time goes on in relation to climate change with more scientific information being made available.
    http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/policy/projects/climate-evidence-causes/climate-change-evidence-causes.pdf
    also
    http://www.plos.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/pone-8-12-hansen.pdf

    Professor Francis provides strong information in relation to extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere:
    http://www.thegreatstory.org/climate.html

  18. Trevor Vivian

    Jasonblog thequote of yeates is so apt.
    Stephen Tardrew correct again.
    Kaye Lee the facts speak alone.

    Abbott et al decided on a ploy to delude, betray, and destroy to gain his entitlement of Power.

    No body will affect what Abbott set in train in destroying Labor.

    The environment does not feature except in industry profit/loss statements.

    Twenty years ago the tipping point for the environment was reached that arseholes argue about today.

    Abbott and his band of supporters and paid apologists will rue this time when so much at stake was sacrificed on abbotts political ambition.

    To Joe Baloney the treasurer , there really is no lasting economy without Ecology. Except the for the cost of repair and reconstruction from environmental/ Climatic disasters.

    What a bunch of Phoneys the Australian electorate vote into power. You’d think things may just change but this situation of Phoneys being elected is as old as my lifetime plus.

  19. johnward154

    America’s first carbon-trading program can boast some impressive numbers
    By John Upton

    How do you turn $1 billion into $2 billion, all the while helping to slow down global warming?
    By capping carbon dioxide pollution and charging for emissions permits, then plowing the revenues into clean energy and energy-efficiency programs.

    The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon-trading program that covers nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, charged power plants about $1 billion for the right to pollute the climate from 2009 to 2012. Of that, $707 million has so far been invested into green programs, and $93 million has been transferred into states’ general funds, according to a new RGGI report.

    Three-quarters of the investments have been used to help utility customers cut back on the amount of power that they use. Those efficiency improvements are eventually expected to save 800,000 households and 12,000 businesses more than $1.8 billion in energy bills.

    Spending on clean energy programs, such as solar panel subsidies, are expected to save an additional $73 million. And $122 million has been handed back to utility customers in the form of direct rate relief.

    Of course, carbon trading isn’t ultimately meant to be about turning a profit. It’s supposed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that end up in the atmosphere. And so far RGGI says it has reduced CO2 pollution by 8 million tons. That’s a difficult quantity to envision, so think about it this way: By 2012, power plants in the region were emitting 40 percent less CO2 than in 2005.

  20. Matters Not

    johnward154 said:

    It’s supposed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that end up in the atmosphere

    Indeed! That’s the ‘big picture’. That’s the ‘discourse’ that Rudd created all those years ago with ‘the greatest moral challenge’ etc but then retreated from same.

    Now the wider political discussion is about the ‘carbon tax’ (and its impost on certain economic activities) but rarely a mention of its original intention and (limited) outcomes.

    The ALP ‘brand’ is now ‘shoddy’ and will remain same until it ‘stands’ for something.

    I suggest that macro policies will be the better policies in both the long term political and environmental impacts.

    But what would I know, I am only a voter. I should add, I am also a ‘teacher’, a ‘parent, a ‘consumer’, a ‘lover’ (my wife might disagree, but she’s busy doing the ironing, so who cares (just jokin)), a ‘retiree’, a ‘grandparent’, a ‘taxpayer’ (but not much these days given the over generous allowances given to self-funded retirees) and also a ‘citizen’.

    And I won’t add any academic ‘qualifications’ because such ‘stamps’ should be neither here nor there when it comes to everyday discourse.

  21. Andy

    I think the hypocrisy of both major parties, when it comes to environmental matters, is a concern. Here is an interesting analysis of how they are positioning themselves to be above the law, when it comes to past decisions and possible future action by Australian citizens. (Of course, with the TPP in place, foreign corporations would still be able to sue the Australian government).

    https://theconversation.com/australias-environment-minister-could-soon-be-above-the-law-23361

  22. lawrencewinder

    “Ozone-Hole” Hunt…. what an embarrassment as a environment minister …Liarbrils, we can no longer afford them.

  23. Fed up

    Maybe this government is no longer sustainable. Maybe it has never been. Maybe we cannot afford it. Yes, I am sure we cannot.

  24. Pingback: The Square Up – Episode Two - Josh Nicholas

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