This week’s events illustrate Australia’s rush to expand the fossil fuel industry is matched only by its rush to cut climate change and renewable energy policies.
In Saturday’s Queensland state election, a major issue was coal seam gas. Both of the two major parties, Labor and the Liberal National Party (LNP), seem happy to let the industry devastate Queensland and watch the profits flow in. Only two minor parties, the Greens and Katter’s Australian Party, supported the community campaign for a moratorium on coal seam gas development. The election result was a bitter disappointment for me. True, one in five Queenslanders voted for parties opposing coal seam gas. Yet the Greens lost votes, and an almost-majority voted for the LNP. Because of the state’s unicameral single-member electorate system, the LNP was able to win almost all the seats in the Queensland Parliament and will face no significant parliamentary opposition for at least the next three years, a critical period for mining investment. I look forward to seeing whether voters will turn on the LNP when they realize the party is not so different to Labor on coal seam gas.
Prior to the election, Clive Palmer, the mining magnate who is the LNP’s biggest donor and arguably most enthusiastic supporter, accused the Greens of being part of a CIA conspiracy to undermine Australia’s coal industry. Palmer’s company Waratah wants to build the world’s largest coal mine and port, due to be approved by the federal Government in December and opposed by the Greens. On Monday, after the election, Palmer retracted his bizarre accusation, all but boasting that he had made it up to distract attention from the LNP. “It took a great lot of attention off some of the negative aspects of the election,” he said. “Who knows where the attention might have been in the last weeks coming up to the election? So it’s wonderful that you [journalists] could play a small role in having Campbell Newman elected as Premier of Queensland. […] I don’t regret having made that statement.” Environmental activist Drew Hutton has announced his intention to sue Palmer for defamation. I think Palmer’s actions are despicable. Hopefully nobody will take anything he says seriously anymore. Continue reading