Jul 29, 2011

Sceptics on the menu at Rinehart’s

Billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart hosted a lunch with WA Premier Colin Barnett with a presentation from a prominent Australian climate-change sceptic, writes Graham Readfearn.

Billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart hosted a lunch with Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett and the Chinese Ambassador Chen Yuming to hear a presentation from one of Australia’s most prominent sceptics of human-caused climate change on the same day that the government was launching the details of its carbon tax proposal. The lunch, on Sunday July 10 at Rinehart’s Perth home, was billed as a welcome to delegates at the high-level two-day Boao Forum for Asia conference, which started the following day. Rinehart, Australia’s richest person with wealth estimated at more than $10 billion, told the audience that climate sceptic Professor Ian Plimer, of the University of Adelaide, was a "reasoned source" of information on climate change. Geologist Professor Plimer, a director of several mining companies, has not published any peer-reviewed research on contemporary climate change. His 2009 book Heaven & Earth was heavily criticised by climate scientists. Speech notes from the lunch released on the website of Rinehart’s lobby group Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision (ANDEV) reveal former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who is now the Boao chairman, was also in attendance. The chairman of Hancock Prospecting, Rinehart told the lunch crowd, thought to be about 85-strong: "Today, dark clouds are gathering. In Canberra (thousands of kilometres away), the minority federal government is announcing today the details of its new carbon tax, which will increase the costs of commodities we export and costs in Australia’s economy. "This is such an important problem for Australia I have asked one of the leading sources of reasoned and factual information in Australia on global warming and climate change to address us, Professor Ian Plimer." Referring to her fears over a carbon price, Rinehart urged the high-powered  lunch crowd: "Warnings or reminders from yourselves would be welcome!" A spokeswoman for WA environment minister Bill Marmion confirmed to Crikey he had attended the lunch, but declined to comment on Professor Plimer’s views on climate change. Cheryl Edwardes, a former WA environment minister, is Hancock Prospecting’s executive general manager responsible for external affairs, government relations and approvals. This is the second time in recent months that Rinehart has personally hosted senior politicians and personally provided a forum to climate sceptics. In June, it was revealed she had flown two members of federal parliament to India on a private jet to attend the wedding of Mallika Reddy. Nationals senate leader Barnaby Joyce and Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop were flown to Hyderabad for part of the extravagant three-day wedding. Mallika Reddy’s grandfather is GV Krishna Reddy, whose GVK company is looking to negotiate a reported $2.4 billion deal to buy large stakes in two of Rinehart’s major coal projects. Rinehart helped finance controversial climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton’s 2010 Australia tour. She also arranged for Lord Monckton to speak to an invited audience at Notre Dame Unversity in Perth on June 30 as part of his 2011 Australia tour. The Boao lunch event, in a marquee at Rinehart’s Dalkeith home on the banks of the Swan River, did not appear on the official program of the Boao Forum for Asia Energy, Resources and Sustainable Development Conference. As detailed in the Boao conference program, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was an opening speaker at the conference. A spokesperson for Rudd confirmed he did not attend the lunch. Barnett and Minister for Trade Craig Emerson were also speakers at the conference. Business leaders included Andrew Forrest, of Fortescue Metals Group, Ryan and Kerry Stokes, directors of Seven Group Holdings, and senior representatives from BC Iron, CSIRO, Rio Tinto and BP China. Senior Chinese government officials were also speakers and panelists.

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274 thoughts on “Sceptics on the menu at Rinehart’s

  1. Margaret Kerr

    The Chinese must just rub their hands in glee at the sheer stupidity and greedy short-sightedness of Rinehart and our climate change sceptic voters, politicians and business people. Especially when we’re so obsessed with Muslims that we’re blind to the fact our farming land is being sold off to overseas interests. Once we’ve squandered any mining royalties that Gina allows us, what will be left?

  2. LucyJr

    I trust Gina will contribute to a fund to alleviate costs to Australians from increasing extreme weather events?

  3. kd

    Not so much flat-earth economics, but scorched earth economics eh?

  4. Jimmy Nightingale

    Why not Lord Monckton?

    I’m guessing that it was more a horses for courses kind of event and even Ms Rinehart understood that she couldn’t expect Monckton to be taken seriously by that audience. Plimer has the veneer of respectability, yet if you scratch through the surface, as many have done after publication of his fictional tome, old ‘Iron Sun’ Plimer fails the credibility test just as abysmally. Still, a fool and his/her money are soon parted and it is easy to sell something if it reinforces one’s world view.

    I guess that is a sign of the strength of the science. That the only people the so-called sceptics can trot out to these kind of gatherings are those with no relevant expertise who need to distort and deflect from the science. Not only that, but the likes of Plimer and Monckton (and the rest of their merry band – Evans, Nova, Carter etc) often hold conflicting or contradictory positions (there is no evidence, climate change is real but it won’t be as bad as the scientists say, through to we can’t do anything about it and can only adapt) and are only united on the Abbott summation that ‘climate change is crap’.

    Meanwhile, as the cries of doom and gloom from this bunch grow ever louder, investment plans in the coal and other mineral extraction industries continue to expand. It’s about time someone, say ASIC, started holding these people to account. Surely, if this is going to be as bad as the miners are saying, we would read about these potentially material adverse events in their published Annual Reports. I am happy to be corrected, however I’m not aware of a single one mention of this.

  5. fredex

    From the article above:
    “Cheryl Edwardes, a former WA environment minister, is Hancock Prospecting’s executive general manager responsible for external affairs, government relations and approvals.”

    From here:

    [Google the opening phrase of the quote above and you get on the front page a Yahoo article that says]

    On Sunday 17 July 2011, 13:17 EST

    “The Western Australian Opposition has expressed concern about a possible conflict of interest after the husband of a senior mining company staff member was appointed Chief of Staff to the Environment Minister, Bill Marmion.

    Colin Edwardes is the husband of the former WA attorney general Cheryl Edwardes who is now the Director of External Affairs at Hancock Prospecting.

    Labor Leader Eric Ripper said Hancock has environmental applications pending before Mr Marmion and he wants the Premier Colin Barnett to assign another Minister to deal with any approvals involving the company”

  6. Jimmy

    In a time where billionaires globally are seeking to give back to the community, eg Warren Buffett, Bill Gates etc Rinehart only seeks self interest. She may be Australia’s wealthiest woman but she will leave no legacy and will be forgotten.

  7. Suzanne Blake

    I wonder if Professor Tim Flannery (Gillards ex Chief Climate Scientist) was there at Gina’s house?

    Did he leave his waterfront house he recently purchased with his wife on the Hawkesbury River at Copa Point? Did he leave his house in his speed boat, that was reported to be causing excessive wash in the No Wash Zone near his house at Cottage Point.

    Perhaps he took the sea plane or Dick Smith picked him up is his helicopter?

    I heard the oyster farmers who have been farming oysters for 40 or more in that area and also on the south coast of NSW, say there has not been any sea level rises and they would know. They are on the water 5 or 6 days a week. Their piles and oyster trays are in exactly the same position as they have been for decades.

  8. twobob

    “I heard the oyster farmers who have been farming oysters for 40 or more in that area and also on the south coast of NSW, say there has not been any sea level rises…”

    hhah hah hhah hah ah errrr.

    Magnificent way to discredit science there suzie, or yourself. You can rest assured though that your eloquent argument has convinced me. Thanks for the laugh

  9. Rodger

    Is there a pattern here?
    Are the rich and powerful more dishonest than the rest of us in their pursuit of money and power?
    Perhaps it is that they are able to mislead more people because they are rich and powerful.
    Or is getting more money more important to them than anything else?
    Just asking.

  10. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    “I heard the oyster farmers who have been farming oysters for 40 or more in that area and also on the south coast of NSW, say there has not been any sea level rises…”

    And here we were using so-called “empirical evidence” when vague anecdotes will do.

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