Two different papers on the history of #Australia and environment may be of interest.


Ward (2015) “Tea Party imitators? The campaign against the carbon tax, the media and a new uncivil politics”, Australian Journal of Political Science, 50:2, 225-240,

there is a very handy account of the bizarre and distasteful year of 2011, when Julia Gillard as Australian Prime Minister skilfully steered the ‘Clean Energy Futures’ legislation through parliament. This package included the emission trading scheme that Tony Abbott, in his two years too long tenure as Australian prime minister abolished, but also created the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Authority (ARENA), all of which Abbott tried to kill off, but couldn’t manage (and have been moved from Industry to Environment by new Aussie Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull”

Ward recaps the growth of the American Tea Party and the ‘outrage industry’ that is cable television and talkback  (and remember, outrage is an anagram of ear gout) before giving detailed accounts of the Marrickville protest where Labor MP (and possible replacement for Bill Shorten) Anthony Albanese was confronted by a mob happy to call him liar, but not so willing to listen to a word he said) and the infamous ‘Ditch the Witch/Bob Brown’s Bitch’ rally of 23rd March, and tying it to the activism of media personalities (especially Sydney’s 2GB radio station.

Some might quibble with just how rigorous Ward’s of finding pictures online, randomly selecting and counting faces is, but absent a time machine to be at the rally, it will do. His broader points stand.

What could be added (but then, it would have exceeded the word limit!  You can only do so much in any given article);

  • The broader context of why Gillard had to go back on her promise, the MPCCC situation, the protests at the passage of the legislation.  (All covered in Philip Chubb’s (2014) Power Failure.)
  • The demographics of the anti-carbon tax brigade and the ‘anti-reflexivity’ framework propounded by Dunlap and Mc…
  • The huge mining industry advertising campaigns of 2010 and 2011 (including the Trade and Industry Alliance
  • The broader nature of the Australian media and the invisibility of the coal industry – Wendy Bacon and Chris Nash PLAYING THE MEDIA GAME The relative (in)visibility of coal industry interests in media reporting of coal as a climate change issue in Australia Journalism Studies

While Ward is focused on the peak year of 2011, Rootes has more years and more countries in his frame.

Rootes, C. (2015) “Exemplars and Influences: Transnational Flows in the Environmental Movement” Australian Journal of Politics and History: Volume 61, Number 3,, pp.414-431.

He’s looking at the how of how ideas travel (not always in straight lines!) and specifically at the genealogies of Green parties, Friends of the Earth and ‘Earth First!’, looking at the US, Australia and Europe.  I’ll declare an interest – I lived through a bunch of this stuff, and I know (fairly tangentially) one of the people written about).

It’s a good piece, full of rich detail, and some minor de-mythologising –

It has sometimes been claimed, usually by Australians, that it was developments in Australia that exported the “green” label to environmental politics in Europe.2 In particular, it has been claimed that the German activist Petra Kelly was inspired, after her 1977 visit to Australia, by the Green Bans imposed by the New South Wales Builders Labourers’ Federation (BLF) in Sydney to campaign for the formation of a Green party in Germany.3 Perhaps what most impressed Kelly was the spectacle of working men campaigning for environmental protection in practical and effective ways, in response to calls for protection from local communities confronted with threats to their environment, but it is improbable that that could have inspired the formation in Germany of a new party or, indeed, the decision to label it “green”. After all, there were plenty of other factors driving in that direction in the ferment of German extra-parliamentary politics in those years.

And lots of things I didn’t know about American environmentalism-

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has become the most extensive network of autonomous environmental NGOs in the world.17 It had an unambiguous single point of origin as the brainchild of David Brower, who had resigned as executive director of the Sierra Club, the organisation established in California by John Muir in 1892 to promote the preservation of wilderness areas in the American west. Brower fell out with the board of directors of the Sierra Club over finances but also over his opposition to nuclear energy, and his expression of regret that the Club had voted to accept construction of a nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon.

And UK FOE’s history –

FoE was committed to action that was not only non-violent but legal, even to the extent of frustrating supporters who wanted to be more directly active. Such discontents were crystallised when, despite FoE’s long campaign against nuclear energy, the 1978 Windscale nuclear reprocessing inquiry report dismissed FoE’s arguments. Many supporters were disillusioned, and some defected to Greenpeace.19 Nevertheless, FoE survived this and subsequent financial problems that precipitated an office revolt that ended in the empowerment of officers and its 250 autonomous local groups.

Things I need (or rather, want!) to look into more;

  • The Terania Creek blockade and the following victories.
  • The Wran government’s decision to create national parks freed up activists to help fight the Franklin Dam battle in 1982-3. (Wran was an interesting character – supported the White Cliffs solar energy plan, was head of CSIRO in late 80s and seems to have clocked the threat of climate change)
  • John Seed

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