Tony Abbott

Nick Minchin

Nick Minchin

 Credentials

  • BEc (Economics), Australian National University 
  • LLB (Law), Australian National University 

Source: Parliamentary Biography.

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Tue, 2014-01-14 22:27Graham Readfearn
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Exclusive: Mont Pelerin Society Revealed As Home To Leading Pushers Of Climate Science Denial

THERE’S a popular talking point coming from climate change denialists that all people who accept the science and the need to act on it are somehow blinded by faith.

In Australia, climate science contrarian columnists can barely touch their keyboards without typing out the words “global warming faith” or explaining how human-caused global warming is some sort of “new religion”.

This “climate religion” narrative often goes hand-in-hand with another favourite denialist talking point where climate scientists are only doing what they do because there’s a dollar in it.

Presumably the laws of physics, the melting ice sheets, the increasing risk of bushfires, the hottest decades on record and the acidifying oceans are also waiting for their cash.

Maurice Newman, the man hand-picked by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to be the government’s top business advisor, loves both of these debating points.

Newman has described climate scientists as being a “global warming priesthood” and belonging to a new “religion”. In a second opinion column in two weeks in The Australian, Newman repeats his cynicism over the IPCC and climate scientists, describing them as a “cartel” that “will deny all contrary evidence”.  Newman even repeats the myth that in the 1970s scientists were certain the world was heading for global cooling, when in fact, as this study shows, a healthy majority of scientific papers were predicting the opposite. 

Yet Newman has a deep belief system of his own, having long been associated with a form of “classic liberalism” – a particular world view which advocates small government and low regulation of the activities of businesses.

Not only that, but he is a member of a global society of influential business people, academics and think tank associates known as the Mont Pelerin Society who share the same broad ideology.

The Mont Pelerin Society

The Mont Pelerin Society was established in 1947 by free market economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek.

Maurice Newman, a Mont Pelerin member since 1976, has long been an admirer of the work of Hayek and fellow free market economist Milton Friedman, a past president of the Mont Pelerin Society.

Newman was responsible for bringing Friedman to Australia in the mid-1970s, at a time when Newman was helping to set up the Centre for Independent Studies – a Sydney-based free market think tank.

Mont Pelerin’s website explains that while all members don’t agree on everything, “they see danger in the expansion of government, not least in state welfare, in the power of trade unions and business monopoly, and in the continuing threat and reality of inflation.”

The Society, which holds a meeting annually in different parts of the world, also explains how its members see their society “as an effort to interpret in modern terms the fundamental principles of economic society as expressed by those classical economists, political scientists, and philosophers who have inspired many in Europe, America and throughout the Western World.”

To become a member, individuals have to be nominated by a current member and then seek endorsement by the membership committee before being endorsed. 

DeSmogBlog has obtained a full list of the society’s members that includes senior representatives of many of the world’s foremost “free market” think tanks actively pushing back on proposed policy solutions to tackle climate change.

The list, from 2010, includes almost 500 people from 52 countries, with the bulk of members coming from the United States and the United Kingdom. The 70-page list includes private contact details. DeSmogBlog has decided to publish only extracts with contact details redacted.

Among the notable members is Charles Koch (list excerpt here), the US oil billionaire who has been a Mont Pelerin Society member since 1970.

Wed, 2013-10-09 17:00Graham Readfearn
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Australia's New Prime Minister Surrounded By Climate Science Denying Voices and Advisors

WHEN speaking to script, Australia's new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott will say that he accepts that human emissions of greenhouse gases are having an impact on the world's climate.

Yet the Liberal Party leader appears to be surrounding himself with ministers and advisers who reject the science of human-caused climate change, with the most outspoken anti-science advocate being Maurice Newman, recently appointed as chairman of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council.

According to Newman, the current government's two key climate science agencies - the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology - “continue to propagate the myth of anthropological climate change”, as he wrote last month in the Australian Financial Review.

Writing in The Australian newspaper in July, Newman described the science of human-caused climate change as a “smokescreen” for “vested interests” and criticised US President Barack Obama for continuing to “champion discredited research”.

Last November Newman, a former stockbroker and chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was again dripping with hatred for climate scientists and “believers”, who he described as being part of a global throng of  “fundamentalists” who had “collected hundreds of billions of dollars from naive governments that adopted their faith”.

Since entering Government in September, Tony Abbott has already abolished Australia's publicly-funded Climate Commission, re-iterated his “blood oath” to repeal the country's carbon price legislation and has pushed on with attempts to scrap the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The CEFC has made a reported $500 million in loans since July which have attracted a further $1.6 billion in private investment to projects it has backed.

Thu, 2013-03-21 23:16Graham Readfearn
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Climate Denial Think Tank's Plans To Abolish Climate Change Departments in Australia

A LEADING Australian free-market think tank with close ties to the country's conservative Liberal Party has revealed its plan for climate change - abolish it.

Aside from the current Labor-led government's mud-wrestling over its leadership, all opinion polls point to a landslide victory for the Tony Abbott-led Liberal Party at the next election, which has been set for September.

The Institute of Public Affairs, a leading promoter of climate science denial and misrepresentation, has revealed its recommendations for the next government in a document outlining budget cuts. The plan was written by Alan Moran, director of the think tank's deregulation unit.

The document made the pages of The Australian newspaper but the report did not mention the document's detailed plans to obliterate all climate change functions in the country's public sector. In one section the document outlines the think tank's recommendations for public sector departments. In delaing with the future of the “Climate Change and Energy Efficiency” department, Moran writes simply: “Abolish”.

Pretty much every other federal government function to administer climate change policy, research global warming, ensure sustainable development or support renewable energy gets chopped under Moran's plan. Many publicly-funded research programs and agencies are either chopped entirely or cut to the bone.

Fri, 2012-10-19 15:09Graham Readfearn
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Climate Denialist Aussie Radio Host Must Take Fact-Checking Course, Says Authority

IT'S not been a great few weeks for Alan Jones, arguably Australia's most influential radio personality who believes global warming is a hoax and that climate change science is “witchcraft”.

In a humiliating episode, Jones and his Sydney radio station 2GB have agreed with the country's radio broadcasting watchdog to undergo training in fact-checking after complaints about a statement Jones had made about climate change.

Jones' most recent episode of self-inflicted misery began a few weeks ago, when the veteran broadcaster issued a half-hearted apology to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard after telling a meeting of young Liberals that Ms Gillard's father had “died of shame” over what Jones described as her “lies”.

In the wake of Jones' invective, helped along by a social media campaign, dozens of advertisers pulled support for Jones, who will lose the use of a Mercedes-Benz car loaned to the station by the car maker.

Now the Australian Communications and Media Authority, a government agency which regulates radio broadcasting, has revealed that it has agreed a series of measures with Jones and 2GB over his fact-mangling on climate change.

Wed, 2012-07-18 02:07Graham Readfearn
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Australians Beware: Soon The Climate Science Deniers Will Be In Charge

ANYONE who places stock in safeguarding the current and future climate (and for that matter anyone who doesn't) should prepare themselves for the risk that very soon, climate science deniers, contrarians and sceptics will be running the show.

All the polls suggest that a Liberal-led coalition will sweep to power at next year's Federal election in Australia - the world's biggest exporter of coal and on track to be the biggest exporter of liquified natural gas.

Current Liberal leader Tony Abbott, if we care to remember, once described climate change as “crap”. Views shared among Abbott's parliamentary coalition ranks are that climate science is a “leftist fad” and a “work of fiction”.

The Liberal-National Party's new Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his environment minister Andrew Powell are currently presiding over a massive boom in coal and gas projects. Both have said they're unable to accept the evidence of human-caused climate change, going against the scientific findings of the country's main science agancy the CSIRO and the country's Bureau of Meteorology, plus every major science academy on the planet.

Instead the Newmans and Abbotts of this world would rather stake the future of their constituents, our economies, our food supplies and our coastlines on the ideologically-blinkered pseudo-science of narrow vested interests and free market fundamentalists.

Sat, 2011-11-05 16:22Graham Readfearn
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Commonwealth Business Council Picks In-house Denier To Chair Climate Forum

IF you were going to have a serious high-level discussion about, say, improving science teaching in schools, then who would you invite to chair the meeting?

How about an astrologer? Perhaps a purveyor of crystal healing would be a good choice? Maybe a creationist, a fortune teller or a spiritual healer?

Well of course not. This would be ridiculous. But just hold that thought for a minute.

A few days ago, the Commonwealth Business Council brought its high-level bi-annual forum –hosted in Perth, Western Australia – to a close.

The CBC boasts membership from 54 countries, across five continents with more than 100 member companies. Among its goals, the CBC aims to “provide leadership in increasing international trade” and to promote “good governance and corporate social responsibility”.

Among those in attendance at the CBC forum were the Australian Prime Minister, senior Australian cabinet members, ministers from South Africa, the UK, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Rawanda and the Caribbean.

There were senior representatives from international energy and mining companies, including BP, Woodside, RioTinto, Shell and Hancock Prospecting.
 
With all of that power and influence in the one place, organisers promised that the meeting would likely spawn many multi-million dollar international business deals.
 
But the meeting also broke-up with the news that, among other things, it had failed to reach any kind of agreement on tackling climate change.
 
According to a report in The Australian, the London-based council’s director-general Mohan Kaul said this lack of an agreement was down to the “diverse views” of those businesses in attendance.
 
Mark Barnaba, the forum’s steering committee co-chairman, said the lack of consensus was “unsurprising”.
 
Indeed, this lack of agreement was unsurprising. Even an astrologer could have correctly predicted it, given the person they asked to chair the forum's climate change session.
 
Tue, 2011-10-11 23:08Graham Readfearn
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Australia Gets a Price on Carbon Despite Toxic Anti-Science Campaign

THEY paid millions of dollars for adverts on television, in newspapers and online. They flew in climate change deniers from across the globe. They held rallies, engaged prominent right-wing media personalities, threatened scientists and turned the cold non-partisan findings of peer-reviewed science into some kind of blood sport.

But despite what was surely the dirtiest and most dishonest campaign ever waged before the Australian public, from next July major industrial emitters of greenhouse gases (about 500 of them) will have to pay $23 for every tonne of their pollution under laws passed earlier today.

The torrent of self-interest, archaic so-called “free-market” ideology and unmitigated greenhouse gas pollution, will give way to modest payments for the right to continue to pollute, while placing billions into funds to finance clean energy projects.

Away from the propaganda, the bare facts read like this. The laws now pass to the Senate for a vote in early November.

The previous Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation also got this far but was voted down twice in 2009 before it was deferred permanently by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

This time though, the Greens who helped forge the bills which make up the Clean Energy Future package hold the balance of power in the upper house. Barring something extraordinary, which noone - not even the Opposition - is able to envisage, the laws will pass.

From 1 July 2012, Australia's largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions will have to pay a fixed price of $23 per tonne of pollution produced here. The price will rise to $25.40 per tonne in 2014/15. From 1 July 2015, an emissions trading scheme will be introduced where the government releases a fixed number of permits which major emitters will need to purchase through auctions. In the early stages, major industries will be given permits for free, but the assistance gets scaled back.  The number of permits released by the government will be capped to enable Australia to cut its emissions by five per cent by 2020, based on 2000 levels.

Fri, 2011-07-15 14:01Graham Readfearn
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King Coal Australia Plans to Price Carbon

Coal ships at Australia's Newcastle port

SO Australia’s carbon price cards are finally on the table.

From July next year, the Federal Government will look to price greenhouse gas emissions at $23 per tonne rising 2.5 per cent each year.

Then, in 2015, this is replaced by a cap-and-trade system with the price set by the market.

That’s the simple explanation. The devil is in the detail, of which there is an awful lot.

To make the plan politically acceptable, a complex array of exemptions, sweeteners, compensation measures and adjustments to the tax system have been negotiated.

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