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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Editorial – Fossil fools buy seats at leadership table

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The dirtier and more dangerous your business is, the more you need to spend to get the political result you want. Fossil-fuel dinosaurs excited about a lump of coal.

David Lovejoy, Echo co-founder

Conspiracy theories abound these days. Most of them are feeble balloons that can be popped with one or two sharp facts, but a few contain some truth.

As the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. My conspiracy theory is the Morrison government’s commitment to fossil fuel.

The new chair of the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, which is responsible for ensuring the integrity of projects that get climate funding, is David Byers, whose resume includes the Minerals Council of Australia, BHP, and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.

Joining him on the committee is Dr Brian Fisher, an economist whose wildly overestimated costs of alternative energy have been uncritically promoted by the Murdoch press.

These are not the only committee members from the fossil fuel industry, and it would appear that the government is preparing the ground for granting the industry more climate funding.

Public coal-fondling may be out of fashion, but Morrison remains committed to the interests of corporations whose activities are literally burning up our future.

This is because those corporations give substantial financial support to political parties.

The reason they do so is not rocket science. If your industry pollutes the environment by, say, poisoning aquifers and emitting carbon dioxide, it is likely to collide with regulations established to control such behaviour.

The regulations cost you money, but for a fraction of that lost profit you can buy a corrupt government and write your own industry-friendly regulations.

The dirtier and more dangerous your business is, the more you need to spend to get the political result you want.

Hence, it is executives from the very worst companies who become the dining companions and puppet masters of government ministers.

Journalist George Monbiot has dubbed this process the ‘Pollution Paradox’: if you let business fund politics, what you get is the very worst of business funding the very worst of politics.

It is not just fossil fuel companies that have the regulatory itch. Bankers don’t like having their prey protected by red tape. Developers don’t like planning laws. Employers could do without a workplace code.

Media barons have particular influence over the governments that are supposed to regulate them, not just in donations but in news manipulation.

And all of these funders of political parties hate paying tax and have persuaded most governments to agree with them.

But only in the most damaging of all industries, fossil fuel extraction, has the identification of corporations with government become so great that our National Covid Coordination Commission, designed to mend the economy, is stacked with shills from gas companies, and the committee to check that funds to reduce carbon emissions are properly spent is chaired by a fossil fuel careerist.

Outlawing business donations to political parties would be the single most effective way to reform our system of government.

News tips are welcome: [email protected]


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11 COMMENTS

  1. Well, I Never !
    Such a cynical take on the valiant, honest lawyers that have taken on the responsibility of directing this country for the benefit of all Australian citizens, with no thought of their own self enrichment. I have lost count of the numbers who have openly admitted that they don’t the job for the paltry hundreds of thousands in salary, nor the lurks and perks of unlimited expense accounts and travel opportunities, often for the rest of their lives. No, not these brave and trusty men and women would never countenance back-handers and inducements from billionaires, who stand to benefit by unimaginably massive amounts by their eager rush to facilitate the theft of public resources, for the benefit of foreign interests.
    So there you have it David, I’m sure that I have dispelled any malicious musings and misconceptions.
    ….and remember, Don’t frighten the horses. G”)

  2. Commitment to fossil fuel’s a joke. The new chair of the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee is (goodness gracious
    me) one of the coal-kissing sharks. Everyone of the ‘breed’ wants a cracker while Fisher, a Murdoch mantra – follows in the
    old man’s footsteps. Yes, we will gift all the hand-picked bell ringers climate funding. Poor beggars; they are in need of help.
    They share the same bed that’s barrel fed infested: – who said that pigs don’t fly or fry.

  3. When political parties are bought by Fossil Fuel Industry bribes and donations the payback is these cushy appointments that further still, the interests of the Fossil Fuel Industry. It’s a corrupted process but the voters largely don’t give a toss, just like with with corruption and malfeasance of RoboRobberyDebt, SpRorts and Badgerys Creek Triangle that ScottyfromMarketing evades and avoids, the dirt of scandal never sticks to the dude.

  4. In Qld’s last State election the biggest donor was New Hope. They are the coal mining company fighting community group Oakey Coal Action Alliance for their expansion of the Acland coal mine up on the Darling Downs (community struggle is documented in the great little film Your Water, My Water by Wendy Rogers). New Hope gave $660K to Qld political parties!

  5. Allowing the fossil fuel industry to advise our government on climate protection, air pollution and emissions reductions planning is like allowing the tobacco and asbestos industry to advise our health ministers on smoking reduction and cancer prevention.

  6. Or wash out big business money with democracy dollars, as proposed by Yang and avoid the ‘money is freedom of speech’ precedent.

  7. Hi. I’ve been thinking for a long time that if individuals and corporations could by law only contribute $10 each per year to political parties etc then the politicians would have to go back to the old ways of door knocking and standing on the back of a truck on the Main Street to get their message across and answer questions. Without the power of the mass media perhaps we could have a return to true democracy or at least it would be a good start.
    I’m sure there would be many reasons brought on by politicians why this couldn’t work like security issues but to save true democracy we need to start somewhere.

  8. Bullseye, David. I well remember in the mid 50s line-ups of polly contenders outlining their beliefs outside pubs
    & in main streets on Sunday evenings. So easy to put a face to a name & assess his or her answers to multiple
    questions. Now we have ‘undercover placements’ designed by power brokers & look-alike looters who refuse
    to answer current & future goings-on. Ten bob donations says it all.

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