Aside from the serious allegations now engulfing Don Burke, it’s worth remembering the embattled former TV host has previously held some pretty dubious and contradictory views — not least of which when it came to the environment.

In July 2005, Burke took over from Jennifer Marohasy as chair of the Australian Environment Foundation (AEF), announcing at the time

“The greatest threat to the world’s environment is the conservation movement. I’m very annoyed with the conservation movement and feeling a bit desperate, in that I think conservationists did a brilliant job 30 years ago at making us all aware of the massive problems facing the planet, but they’ve failed miserably since then.”

Announcing one’s membership of  a “conservation group” by discrediting the entire conservation movement might seem an odd way to go about things. But then, of course, the AEF isn’t your average environment group. They have urged Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, lobbied for the the Tasmanian old-growth forest to be taken off the world heritage list, as well as opposing “regulatory burdens” for energy producers and subsidies for renewable energy.

If you think all this sounds less like the agenda of a conservation group and more like the yammerings of a right-wing libertarian think tank, you could be forgiven; the AEF is registered at the same offices as the Institute of Public Affairs, and Marohasy, the inaugural chair, was the director of the environment unit at the IPA between 2004 and 2009. Currently among their board members is The Australian‘s favourite climate change sceptic/martyr Peter Ridd, who has also contributed to the IPA’s Climate Change 2017: The Facts along with other usual suspects like Bjorn Lomborg and Ian Plimer.

Peter Fray

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