Australian governments have always encouraged extractivist industries, particularly coal mining. These industries now face a well-organised environment movement, which is challenging environmentally damaging projects and calling for an end to coal mining. The federal government under PM Tony Abbott took attacks on the environment movement to a new level, by introducing legislation to restrict environmentalists’ influence.
Newcastle is a major centre for coal exports. When Newcastle City Council flirts with any hint of fossil fuel divestment, expect controversy. On August 25, the council approved a policy giving preference to “environmentally and socially responsible investments”. This was supported by Labor and Greens councillors, and opposed by Liberal and independent councillors.
Melbourne climate activists staged an “End of Coal” parade on August 13. They were celebrating the Commonwealth Bank’s decision to cancel its involvement with Adani’s Galilee coal proposals. They called on all Australia’s Banks to stop investing in fossil fuels.
Many Victorians had hoped the election of a state Labor government signaled an end to the East West Link and the dawn of a new age of public transport projects, with the Andrews government committing to start building the $11 billion Metro Rail Project in 2018. Now, federal Liberal MPs from Melbourne’s outer east are trying to resuscitate the East West Link. On August 8 they held a small rally with the demand “Build the Link”.
Has a not-for-profit or charity (an NGO) contacted you to suggest switching electricity retailer? Are you convinced this helps them promote their causes while also addressing climate change? Several NGOs are now promoting an electricity retailer Powershop to their supporters. Australian activist group GetUp! pioneered such marketing. Others forming partnerships with Powershop include anti-poverty charity Oxfam, and environmental NGOs.
Australia’s climate policies are a mess, and we cannot just blame Tony Abbott. We are facing a climate emergency and Australia is a significant culprit. The country has very high per capita emissions and is a major coal exporter.
Many people are dismayed that the Greens have supported the Coalition government’s age pension cuts. Greens’ social media has been awash with commentary, with many people venting their anger at the Greens. Some have defended the deal, trusting the Greens to do the right thing and labelling criticism as Labor propaganda. Others just want an explanation.
The federal government is keen to cut the age pension. Its latest proposal to double the taper rate on the assets test has been supported by the Greens on the basis that this measure will reduce government support to those with significant wealth. The Greens also hoped that by supporting these pension cuts, the government would rein in tax concessions on superannuation. However, the government has since publicly ruled out any superannuation changes.
In the 2010 Victorian elections the Greens scored about 30% of the vote in each of the Labor-held inner-city seats of Brunswick, Richmond and Melbourne. They are campaigning hard to break into the Legislative Assembly in all three in the November 29 election. A poll reported in the November 7 Age predicted Greens wins in Richmond and Melbourne, but was not conducted in Brunswick. Tim Read, a medical doctor and researcher, is the Greens candidate for Brunswick. He believes that parliament should stand up to big business.
Labor and Coalition candidates avoided participating in a climate change election forum held on November 12 in the marginal Labor/Greens seat of Northcote. Last week local climate group, Darebin Climate Action Now (DCAN) held a mock climate forum outside Northcote Town Hall, with empty chairs for Labor and Liberal candidates. DCAN members held a banner: “Who is dodging climate debate?” As one Liberal Party insider Sunday Age recently: “The last thing the Coalition wants to do is to draw attention to environment policy, because there isn’t one."
Breakthrough 2014, National Climate Restoration Forum, held over June 21 to 22 in Melbourne, brought together scientists, economists, engineers, business leaders and climate activists. In some regards, the forum represented an important step forward for the Australian climate movement. It highlighted the urgent need to respond to the climate crisis and discussed the possibility of restoring a reasonably safe climate in which human civilisation could continue.
The party of the troglodytes had lost its man of steel, and craved another overlord to bring them all to heel. The smirking trog turned down the job. Folks knew he was a wanker. The doctor couldn’t pull it off, so then they tried the banker. Meanwhile the planet’s heating up — that’s not just trog hot air. It’s carbon gases spewing out from coal plants everywhere. They must be shut before seas rise and low land disappears. But trogs in caves care only how to save their own careers. The banker trog had stepped outside and sniffed the warming haze,