Dirty money talks, governments baulk

Saturday, September 3, 2011
New laws in Victoria subject wind power to restrictions that corporate politicians would never dream of applying to coal or gas.

If you’ve even casually followed the climate debate in Australia over the past few years, it’s most likely you’ve heard a Labor or Liberal party politician utter the phrase: “Governments should not pick winners.”

The idea is that governments’ role is not to give direct support to renewable energy such as wind power or solar power, but instead to create the market conditions where the best, most efficient technology can come to the fore.

But the argument is always used as an excuse for why governments cannot pick clean, renewable energy.

When it comes to coal, gas and oil, Australian governments make them winners all the time.

That coal, gas and oil companies get federal government subsidies of more than $10 billion a year is ample proof of this.

State governments, Labor and Liberal, continue to give the green light to dirty fossil fuel developments, which adds to the climate crisis.

In Western Australia, the Liberal government is trampling over residents and traditional owners opposed to the world’s second biggest gas hub development in the Kimberley.

The NSW and Queensland governments have given permission for coal seam gas companies to mine across huge areas without any serious investigation of its impacts on farming, water and the health of nearby communities.



Now, Victoria’s Liberal government has passed laws meant to cripple the emerging wind power industry.

The law subjects the wind industry to restrictions that corporate politicians would never dream of applying to coal or gas.

As an online petition from the 100% renewables campaign says: “In Victoria, with Premier [Ted] Baillieu’s new laws, a single resident can stop a wind farm within two kilometres of their house but a primary school in Anglesea can’t stop a coal mine being extended to within 800 metres of the school.”

State and federal governments will keep choosing coal, oil and gas until they are confronted with social movements strong enough to make them choose green jobs and safe communities instead.

Green Left Weekly is devoted to building such movements. But we need your help to survive.

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From GLW issue 894