Environmentalists are going to have to get a whole lot more radical if Prime Minister Scott Morrison gets his way on proposed new measures targeting anti-mining activism.
Addressing his mining mates at the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) on November 1, Morrison denounced what he describes as a “new breed of radical activism” and condemned the “indulgent” practices of certain corporations.
His fire was specifically aimed at banking and insurance firms that have refused their services to mining corporations.
Australia’s Big Four banks, as well as several insurance and engineering companies have decided to decline their services to certain firms due to concerted campaigning by anti-mining groups, such as Stop Adani.
All up, about 52 companies have distanced themselves from Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project in Central Queensland.
Morrison said he is working on plans for how to outlaw such secondary boycotts — a direct threat to freedom of speech and action that the union movement already has to navigate.
Morrison decried the climate movement as “apocalyptic in tone. It brooks no compromise. It’s all or nothing. Alternative views are not permitted.”
At the same time, he pledged to work with his attorney-general to “identify mechanisms that can successfully outlaw … indulgent and selfish practices that threaten the livelihoods of fellow Australians.”
Hypocritical is too mild a word to describe his outburst.
The work of environmental activists has certainly contributed to a shift in public consciousness against the greed of fossil fuel corporations and their mates in parliament.
But the main driving force is peoples’ rising concern about the devastating impact of the climate crisis that an extremely powerful and unrepresentative corporate-parliamentary partnership is facilitating.
Morrison has also proposed to further sync the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector with the needs of mining corporations.
Skills, of course, can be broadly applicable to many industries. But Morrison is hinting at something new: he wants mining corporations to be in the “driver’s seat” of the national VET system.
That means giving them more control over not just what is taught but who is employed.
All of this is taking us down a very dangerous path.
You would think that Morrison is treading on dangerous ground with his latest outburst.
But he feels confident to open up this new battlefront because he knows it will wedge the Labor Party, which is still remonstrating internally on its disastrous election loss.
Meanwhile, the QRC applauded Queensland Labor Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk’s new anti-protest laws that are specifically targeted at climate activists.
The success of the climate campaign has driven Morrison to up the ante. We are in a war-like situation for our very survival.
There is a lot at stake on both sides: the super profits of a few extremely powerful corporations versus a habitable planet for all.
[Pip Hinman is an anti-coal seam gas campaigner and member of the Socialist Alliance.]