It is clearly absurd
for WWF – a supposedly world leading environment group – to think that it can get away with the half
pregnant position of opposing nuclear power but supporting uranium mining. But the pro-uranium
mine posturing from WWF (formerly World Wildlife Fund for Nature) on the front
page
of The Australian this morning was no
surprise to many in the environment movement.

WWF is well known
for pro-Howard government manoeuvring. This was most infamously demonstrated by their support for the notorious
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) legislation which
was passed with a deal with the Democrats (brokered by WWF), in the wake of the
GST legislation.

The EPBC legislation
scrapped Commonwealth environmental powers (essentially ceding them back to the
states); exempted logging from the provisions of the Act and included no
capacity to control greenhouse gases. Half a decade later,
not much has changed and WWF continues to do the Government’s bidding.

The Australian Institute released a report
in 2004
showing how much funding WWF has received from the
Howard Government over time and how it had influenced the WWF pro-Howard
positions. But what hasn’t been
well understood, is that it is not just Government money that might be
influencing WWF positions.

Big business mining
dollars have also been flowing in and WWF activities are actually being funded
by uranium miners. One particular five-year deal – Frogs!
A conservation partnership with Rio Tinto
– was worth at least $1.2 million (according to Bob Burton writing in Mining
Monitor – page 9
).

So WWF has also got into bed with Australia’s big
uranium exporter Rio Tinto. And, surprise, now it is softening its stance on
uranium.

Disclosure: Ben Oquist is working on
the campaign for West Papua. Rio Tinto owns the controversial Freeport mine in Papua that has been the subject of much
criticism from West Papua activists.

Peter Fray

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