Who's Australia's worst environment minister?

October 11, 2008

On September 15, Resistance kicked off our competition to determine who is Australia's worst environment minister. Resistance members in Melbourne headed down to 50 Lonsdale Street to present Gavin Jennings, Victoria's environment minister, with the illustrious award of Australia's Worst Environment Minister.

In Victoria, we are pretty convinced that Jennings is in the top running for the award. Our friendly minister has spent the past months happily supporting his fellow ministers' wonderfully unsustainable projects.

These include water minister Tim Holdings' plans to solve the state's water crisis: a $3 billion desalination plant, which recent studies show may be one of the most polluting in the world, and a pipeline to direct water away from the dying Murray-Darling River system and into Melbourne.

Tim Flannery has seen through the government's spin on the pipeline project, labelling it "bullshit" at a September 23 public forum at RMIT University.

Jennings has also excelled in the promotion of new coal-fired power stations, hoping he can get away with it by describing the facility to be built in the LaTrobe Valley, a "clean coal" facility.

Unfortunately, what the media fail to mention is that this plant will produce the same emissions as a black coal facility in New South Wales. Clean indeed!

So we are fairly convinced that the Victorian environment minister (and, ironically, also innovation minister) is the worst of the lot, but, looking at the interstate competition, he may have a run for his money.

Andrew McNamara, Queensland's sustainability, climate change and innovation minister, is overseeing a massive expansion of the coal industry and the state government is investing $300 million into "clean coal" research and development.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann, who doubles as sustainability and climate change minister, has approved the expansion of BHP's Roxby Downs uranium mine, requiring 120 million extra litres of water daily, at no cost.

Michelle O'Byrne, Tasmanian environment minister, hardly needs a mention for her support for the Gunns' pulp mill.

But what of our newest entrants in the competition, NSW's Carmel Tebbutt and Western Australia's Donna Faragher? Despite the popular campaign against electricity privatisation in NSW — which helped bring down ex-premier Morris Iemma — Tebbutt hasn't indicated the plan will change.

Perhaps the one to watch though is Faragher, whose colleagues in the Liberal Party moved within days of winning government to announce that WA is now open for business to the uranium industry. On September 16, BHP announced it will seek to mine the state's biggest deposit in Yeelirrie, worth $9 billion.

Last but definitely not least is the federal environmental crusading team: Penny Wong and Peter Garrett. Wong summed up her opinion on climate change when she said her aim was to "ensure that the reduction of greenhouse gases occurs at lowest cost possible to the economy".

What followed was an Emissions Trading Scheme that gave out free permits to pollute to big business and ensured any real changes would occur well after the Arctic ice-sheet became a distant memory.

And we can only wonder at how Garrett, who rubber-stamped Gunns' pulp mill even before being elected, can sleep while the Earth is burning and his own government does nothing.

So it seems all the ministers are in the running. Go to to cast your vote now. More importantly, get active in Resistance to stop these climate criminals and give them a clear ultimatum: act in the interests of the planet or pack your bags and collect your new shiny award on your way out of here.

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