The Dirty Dozen: Australia’s biggest climate foes, part 2
Yesterday we brought you the first six of our Dirty Dozen, the people who have been most responsible in recent times for preventing progress in the reduction of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Here are the other six, in random order …
The former Australian Council of Trade Unions president now says Prime Minister Tony Abbott is not going far enough in cracking down on unions. But if “the working class can kiss my arse”, he retains his old workerist loathing of environmentalism. As minister for resources and energy in the Rudd and Gillard governments he was dirty industry’s best friend in cabinet, fighting tooth and nail to protect the interests of “his” industries and carving out massive subsidies for the big polluters. And after lobbying from coal companies, Ferguson was responsible for intensifying police and ASIO spying on environmental groups.
In 2009, blogger Andrew Bolt urged Ferguson to come out of the climate sceptic “closet”. Post-parliament he is out and proud. He chairs an advisory board for APPEA, representing gas and oil companies, in which role he almost qualifies as a member of the greenhouse mafia. But as an anti-climate policy lobbyist perhaps Ferguson’s new role as executive in charge of natural resources at Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings matters more. Stokes now makes much more money from mining than from TV, principally through ownership of Caterpillar dealerships in Australia and China, supplying mining trucks to Rio Tinto, BHP and pretty much every other mining company in Australia and northern China. Seven Group Holdings’ CEO is Don Voelte, who was head-hunted last year from Woodside Petroleum, from which position he was a member of the previous Dirty Dozen.
“I don’t know about Tony Abbott, but that Mr Hunt seems like a nice man. He says the government believes in climate change and the Direct Action plan will work. That’s good enough for me.” Hunt built his political career arguing the need to tackle climate change. Hell, he even won a prize for a thesis advocating emissions trading. Now he serves as the baby-faced apologist for the Abbott government’s attack on climate policy.
Hunt is the man who gave the go-ahead for a huge new coal export facility at Abbot Point in Queensland. And he defends climate deniers. Last year he denied the influence of climate change on increased bushfire intensity by quoting Wikipedia. He got all indignant on BBC radio defending his Prime Minister’s record on climate change. When asked if he agreed with Abbott that climate science is “absolute crap”, he rebuked the interviewer for swearing at him.
In the Howard government Philip Ruddock, the small-l Liberal who served as immigration minister, prosecuted a policy of systematic cruelty towards asylum seekers. He turned into a guilt-wracked ghost before our eyes. His own daughter strongly rebuked him. Watch Greg’s face over the next three years. Be more worried if it doesn’t change.
The Minerals Council of Australia is by far the largest fossil fuel lobby group, with $35 million to spend each year on keeping the government friendly or scared. Although Hooke has recently stepped down as chief executive of the MCA, in his 12 years at the helm he leaves such a trail of devastation through climate policy in Australia that his influence will live on. For the mining companies that paid his salary he was worth every cent.
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