If you didn’t catch it - everyone from Prime Minister Julia Gillard down has been reassuring both the coal lobby and Joe Public that coal has nothing to fear from the leaked draft document: “Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom” which calls for $6 million a year to be raised to legally fight increased coal mines, ports and infrastructure.
Even more damning is The Australian’s take.
Trade Minister Dr Craig Emerson declared that the campaign would lead to world hunger. (We kid you not.) In short; the very thought of such a campaign was anathema to our leaders. More evidence that Australia has entered the lobbying age – the stakes have never been higher, the protagonists never better organised and individual voters never less important.
Putting aside our views on the coal industry here’s some food for thought, dear Citizen:
- Clearly it surprises the public, media and politicians that nonprofits would seek to influence policy, challenge the status quo, plan accordingly and devise a budget. Not only is this surprising - it’s upsetting. Planning & campaigning = plotting even when the motivation is broadly idealistic.
- Corporations and institutions are not seen to be plotting, even as they spend millions on representing their interests via lobbying and campaigning. And if they are – that’s seen as natural. Even when the motivation is primarily financial.
- Campaigning to stopping the expansion of the coal industry has instantly been misinterpreted as seeking to close an industry.
- The coal and mining lobby run this town.
- Leaking a report is a dangerous thing to do. (We don’t know if the leak was intentional.) It is doubly dangerous when figures in the document are wrong. Wrong figures destroy credibility; it’s not enough to say – we’ll fix it in the final edition.
- Clearly six million dollars (even when raised through voluntary donations) is seen as huge.
- We think Greenpeace senior campaigner John Hepburn, a co-author of the draft plan performed well for media though he should lose lines like this:
”I think they [the coal industry] are worried about their declining social licence.”
We have been hearing “social licence” too often lately. It’s too posh.
Push food security and water quality over bloody carbon emissions. The same middle-of-the-road proud Aussie who thinks Australia’s influence over world carbon emissions is neglible is deeply concerned over our ability to grow enough food and enjoy clean water.
Note to eco warriors – we know you know this so why do we keep hearing about emissions?
What’s easier to picture? Emissions or destroyed farmland?
Suggested campaign mantras: More coal = less food. Good for coal = bad for farmers.