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Why is Melissa Price the Minister for the Environment?

First speeches in parliament can be revealing and so it was with the speech delivered by our new Minister for the Environment, Melissa Price, back in December 2013.

She began by congratulating Bronwyn Bishop for her elevation to the role of Speaker of the House, assuring us that Bishop’s “grace and good humour, will bring dignity and humility to this House.” She also applauded Prime Minister Abbott’s decision to include Indigenous Affairs as part of his office, and wished Warren Mundine the very best in his role as the Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Council.

All of those people were dumped from their roles by her own party, casting some doubt on Ms Price’s judgement.

Price goes on tell us that she is “a girl from Kalgoorlie” who “left school at the age of 15” because she “did not think the nuns could teach me anything further.”

She later completed her education, “qualifying as a lawyer at the age of 31.”

As “a fourth generation goldfielder”, Ms Price said that times were tough growing up in the goldfields in the 1960s and 1970s due to the unpredictability of the gold price – a rather strange perspective considering she adds that “in those days people who worked on the mines worked regular hours, went home to their families at night and were able to contribute to the community more broadly.”

But Ms Price’s family had different priorities to those who worked the mines.

“My grandad David Dellar entered the Western Australian state parliament as a Labor politician in 1963. My uncle, Stan Dellar, also Labor, was elected to the parliament. My father also had aspirations of a political life but the opportunity did not present itself. He did work hard for the Labor Party and worked on many different campaigns.”

It seems Melissa belongs to yet another political dynasty, something common to an amazingly large number of Liberal politicians and those who aspire to become one.

“Mum and I both agree that if grandad Dellar were alive today he would probably be a Liberal. He was a hard worker, took good care of his own and was quite the entrepreneur with his various mining interests,” said Ms Price, perhaps explaining her interest in the price of gold.

She sounds like a girl after the PM’s own heart, stating that, when she was growing up, “my mother encouraged my siblings and me to ‘just have a go’.” And no doubt, she’ll ‘get a go’ from a PM desperately in need of a female or two on the front bench who have not accused their colleagues of intimidating them.

Ms Price saw her “parents’ involvement in the Labor Party as really just a part of their social life—not as political activism.” Will she bring that same attitude to her own ride on the gravy train?

Spruiking her credentials, Melissa said “I have some 30-odd years of combined commercial and legal experience. The member for Curtin and the member for Pearce and I are the three members of the Clayton Utz Perth alumni here in Canberra.” How’s THAT for a coincidence.

Expanding on her work experience, Ms Price informed us that she has worked in the hospitality and insurance industries, the fast food industry, the grains industry and the mining industry, and was even once an aerobics instructor. Working for Crosslands Resources, she “had the pleasure of travelling deep into the mid-west to assess possible mining acquisitions.”

Our new Minister for the Environment used her first speech to describe the abolition of the carbon tax as a “significant step forward”, and to emphasise the need to further reduce red tape and get rid of unnecessary taxes.

She spoke of “Labor’s knee-jerk ban on live animal exports”, saying “Whilst the opponents of this industry are focused on animal welfare, I am focused on human welfare.”

Whilst “reflecting on the positive impact that the resources industry has had”, perhaps predictably, Ms Price was vehemently opposed to the mining tax.

“Madam Speaker, you did not need a crystal ball to predict the failure of the mining tax. Although it raised, relatively, no revenue, it still hung over the mining industry like a bad smell. From a regulatory point of view, it put a drain on the industry, whilst also discouraging investment and making Australia internationally uncompetitive.”

How strange then that mining investment spending as a share of the economy rose to a multi-decade high in the year after the introduction of the mining tax in 2012 (which only affected iron ore and coal mining companies after their profits exceeded $75 million), and then fell precipitously after its repeal in 2014. Investment spending in the mining sector rose from around 2 per cent of GDP in the early 2000s, where it had been for much of the previous five decades to peak at around 9 per cent of GDP in 2012/13.

In November last year, the RBA said “there has been a notable lack of exploration spending in recent years. This means there is not much prospect of any material increase in investment spending in the period ahead. As a result, our expectation is that investment spending in the resources sector will bottom out just above 2 per cent of GDP and stay at roughly that level for quite a while.”

It seems Price and her party were very wrong about what drives or hinders investment.

As she reeled off the long list of people she wished to thank for getting her elected, Price referred to a special group she called the ‘Durack Dream Team’, one of whom was David De Garis, the man who confessed to tipping off the media about the infamous AWU raid and who, after resigning from Michaelia Cash’s office, now works as the media and communications officer for the AHA in Perth.

Ms Price said she was looking forward to being “a part of the team that brings about the necessary cultural shift” in government but she wasn’t talking about female representation or bullying or workplace behaviour.

“Government needs to be smaller, and more efficient; government departments more accountable, and more productive—with their performances measured to ensure that Australians are getting good value for money.”

By any measure, that has been a huge failure of the increasingly secretive Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison regime.

Was Ms Price selected to be Environment Minister because she was the person best-suited for the job? Or was she chosen because she is a malleable conservative female from WA who will never let facts get in the way of a good slogan?

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  1. DrakeN

    You are a Gem, Kaye.

    Picking out the hypocrisy of this “Liberal” mob.

    Thank you.

  2. LInda

    Why did she become a Liberal with all that history of Labor Involvement?

  3. Presser#1

    Thank you Kaye for another brilliantly forensic fact check. Love your work.

  4. James Cook

    An aerobics instructor??!! Geez Louise, that was a long time ago!

  5. Kaye Lee


    Ambition? Opportunity? Newspolls suggesting Labor couldn’t win in 2013? Greed? The Glorious Julie Bishop? Being connected with the owners of mining capital rather than those who labour in the mines?


    To be fair, she added “I think the House can probably judge for itself that I appear to have more in common with the fast food industry now than the fitness industry!” It is kind of sad that she felt she needed the self-deprecating rejoinder, though why she would list every part-time job she had had from age 15 is beyond me.

  6. LInda


    If she has forgotten all the values she grew up with, just because of those reasons you suggest, then she is certainly not a genuine person.
    And by saying…..
    “Mum and I both agree that if grandad Dellar were alive today he would probably be a Liberal. He was a hard worker, took good care of his own and was quite the entrepreneur with his various mining interests,” ….I think Grandad Dellar would turn in his grave.

  7. New England Cocky

    Another inappropriate NLP misgovernment appointment.

  8. helvityni

    Well, what can one say, another go-go girl for Scottie, better not bully them, or they’ll go away…

  9. Ricardo29

    I am with DrakeN and Presser#1 in congratulating you on yet another forensic dissection of an LNP woman MP’s hypocrisy. The implication that only Liberals care for their families, are good workers and havesome entrepreneurial skills, or the implication that Labor supporters don’t is offensive in many ways. Clearly she is a class traitor attracted more by the benefits to be obtained from the position, than what she can contribute.her only saving grace might be the recognition that she represents fast food more than fitness.

  10. Peter F

    NEC, I disagree, she is the perfect appointment by this government- who better to carry out their ‘policies’.

  11. Phil

    cutting through the crap like a laser – nicely done Kaye Lee.

    My answer to your rhetorical question in the last paragraph is: the latter!

  12. susan

    I think the reference to Labor roots is just sleight of hand. I can’t imagine that Kalgoolie had a large contingent of Liberal voters back in her father’s or grandfather’s time so she had to widen her appeal. Liberal MP Craig Laundy does the same thing, saying that his father and grandfather were Labor supporters. Truth is that pub owners, for practical purposes, support any MP that gets elected in the area where they do business.

  13. diannaart

    Truth is that pub owners, for practical purposes, support any MP that gets elected in the area where they do business.

    Agree completely, Susan.

    Working for Crosslands Resources, she “had the pleasure of travelling deep into the mid-west to assess possible mining acquisitions.”

    Crosslands Resources, owned by Mitsubishi, ships iron ore to Japan (because that’s what Australia does, digs stuff up and sends it O/S to someone else to actually manufacture). Quite possibly, even for a very brief time in her eclectic working history, Melissa rubbed shoulders with Gina Rhinehart? Maybe there are connections to the IPA?

    Melissa ticks all the requisites currently desired by the Libs; knows F/A about the environment, is female, has connections to mining in WA and conservative.

    Is she religious as well?

  14. wam

    Let’s be fair on the women. She has been a pollie as long as this lnp muck has been in power.
    Ergo a pretty good rise for a pollie.
    The question as to why she is in the environment portfolio?? Wow, she is private school trained, a christian and there is not a whiff of conservation nor a snippet of climate change in her speech, attitude nor demeanour
    What better qualifications for the environment?

  15. New Egland Cocky

    @Susan: You are a real trouble-maker for suggesting that Kalgoorlie miners were anything but ALP voters. Why it was those nasty community minded independent thinking miners who decided in great numbers at the 1890s Federation referendum that Australia should be a single island and a single country, much to the disgust of the Perth conservative establishment.

    Naturally with a “good” private school education, paid for with the sweat of the workers toil and much too generous government funding, it is only natural that a private school student would aspire to a government sinecure where the Parliamentary Allowances Scheme may be rorted with impunity, where many graduates of the Barnyard Joke School of Adultery & Philandering practice their dark misogynistic arts among women bullied into submission for the sake of their own fortunes.

  16. Patagonian

    “I think the House can probably judge for itself that I appear to have more in common with the fast food industry now than the fitness industry!” You’d never hear that coming out of the maw of Craig ‘Fatberg ‘ Kelly.

  17. Patagonian

    I see that Snotty has put Direct Action back on the agenda.

  18. johno

    The closest understanding Mel will ever have of the environment is the environment control knob on the air-conditioner. At least she isn’t doing energy, some other moron got energy. It’s all so very Trumpesque.

  19. Josephus

    Someone who cares nothing for the environment; how cynical and contemptuous and contemptible can you get? Small minded, egocentric, not even pretending to care for anything but jobs ‘n growfe. Which of our new ministers is suited to the portfolio- any of them?

  20. Vikingduk

    Yet another LNP lickspittle elevated beyond their competency, but entirely capable of holding fast to ignorance, lies, corruption, hypocrisy and denial. A true liberal politician. A pile of shit by any other name would smell as foul.

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