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.
“The motivation is broadly idealistic?” Only if the end justifies the means, and these are dirty means for a doubtful end. It might surprise the Greenies to know that the demon of CO2 is a lot less frightening now after 15 years of no statistically significant increase in world temperatures, and that climate change is less scary since the drought ended, confirming that the Australian cycles of droughts followed by floods still exist today. So a campaign of lies and propaganda directed at the Coal industry cannot be described as idealistic: look at the dishonestry and manipulation involved in their 6 elements of Strategy:
1. Disrupt and delay building of infrastructure, expecially Ports and Rail. What do we call ecological terrorists? Ecoteurs?
2. Constrain the space: exclude mining from anywhere they can using “outrage over coal seam gas” – they aren’t interested in food security or clean water, except where that motivates the public to advance their agenda. They even have Alan Jones acting as their stalking horse lately.
3.Increase investor risk: the mining and Carbon taxes have already done that.
4. Increase costs: ditto.
5. Withdraw the social licence – In other words, demonise the the industry that brings us wealth, employment, taxes to fund social welfare, and cheap reliable electricity. You better have something – hydro, nuclear, geothermal – in place first, before you close the coal-fired plants, or there will be hell to pay. Our society is quite fragile and depends on electricity to run. If it fails there will be starvation in the cities within weeks.
6. Build a powerful movement. Done: the green equivalent of the IRA is Greenpeace, and the Green Party is their Sinn Fein Political Arm.
Their plans don’t just threaten Coal, they threaten all of our industrial base that keps us all fed, sheltered and warm.
I don’t think the political reaction to this evil plan has been anywhere near strong enough.