Pork-barrel politics and scare tactics have dominated the final weeks of the “longest election campaign ever”. Voters in marginal seats have been warned to “vote carefully”, to not “waste your vote” or “risk a protest vote” which might result in — shock horror “the chaos of a hung parliament”. We have had “tradies” in political ads trying to convince workers that the Liberal National Party (LNP) is their party, and Labor trying to convince the public that they have “rediscovered” labor values.
One side event at the COP21 United Nations climate change conference in Paris was the launch of the Fossil-Fuel Subsidy Reform Communique. Almost 40 countries signed onto the statement, which pledges to eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. The communique said: “The International Energy Agency (IEA) highlights fossil fuel subsidy reform as a key component of a set of energy measures to combat climate change and estimates that even a partial phase-out of fossil-fuel subsidies would generate 12% of the total abatement needed by 2020 to keep the door open to the 2°C target.”
About 50 people attended the Queensland Water Summit in Dalby on September 23. Despite its midweek timing, a wide range of people attended from across the state, including farmers threatened by increasingly severe drought and mining company pollution of their water sources, to community members, doctors and clergy from communities impacted by coal seam gas, underground coal gasification and coalmining. The summit was organised and funded by independent Senator Glenn Lazarus, who spoke briefly but mostly listened to the concerns raised by attendees.
Media watchers should be forgiven for a degree of confusion over statements by federal treasurer and deputy prime minister Wayne Swan in the past two weeks. He began the month with a Press Club address, published in The Monthly’s March edition titled “The 0.01%” where he attacked “the rising power of vested interests” — naming mining magnates Clive Palmer, Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart — for “undermining our equality and threatening our democracy”.
Nearly 10 years of a mining boom has made big changes to Australia’s economy and environment. Resource companies have made record profits. This has given Australia’s rich mining billionaires an inflated sense of entitlement. When the Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT) was proposed we saw Gina Rinehart speaking to an anti-tax rally from the back of a truck along with fellow billionaire Andrew Forrest, who wore a high-visibility work shirt as though he was just another struggling worker.