Tag Archives: Lenore Taylor

Lenore Taylor, Mike Seccombe & Australian #climate politics – institutional memory

Australian content alert: Yeah, this is a bit of geekery.

There’s a Sunday morning politics show called  Insiders, which is a ritual thing I do with my mum and her next door neighbour. The format is solid (stolid?)- a host (usually Barrie Cassidy) and three hacks, sorry, journalists. There’s a long interview with a pollie, a roundup of cartoons and photos, and a comedy video skit. Bish bosh, all done in an hour.

Two weeks ago, two of the three hacks, sorry, journos, were Lenore Taylor (now editor of the Guardian but she has worked everywhere) and Mike Seccombe, now of the Saturday Paper.

At the end of the show Barrie Cassidy invites the hacks to say one thing each as a takeaway. That’s usually some observation about the horserace politics of it all. But two weeks ago Lenore Taylor pointed to the ‘planet may become unlivable’ study and Mike Seccombe wondered out loud about all these farmers suffering from drought who consistently vote for climate-change-denying politicians in the National Party and when that might change.

The thing is this. Lenore Taylor has been reporting -very very astutely- on environmental stuff since at least 1989. She reported for the Australian on the December 1989 summit that kicked off the legendary (I move in small circles) Ecologically Sustainable Development process.

1989 12 08 secret green summit praised theaus p3.png

Taylor, L. 1989. Secret Green Summit Praised. The Australian, 8 December, p3

Meanwhile, in December 1991, Mike Seccombe had a front page story on the Sydney Morning Herald about the final reports of the ESD process.

1991 12 03 blueprint for greener oz smh1.png

Seccombe, M. 1991. Blueprint for a greener Australia. Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December, p.1.

So, while Laura Tingle’s point about lack of institutional memory in political parties, bureaucracies and the media is mostly accurate, there are exceptions. And very fine exceptions indeed.

We’re toast. It’s not a problem of science- the scientists communicated. It’s not a problem of (some) journalism – we’ve had brave and smart reporters. It’s a problem of the power of incumbents, and an inability of social movements to sustain themselves. Or it was. Now, now our problems are different. And a little bit bigger.

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Porky pies about costs of emissions cuts nothing new #climate #Howard #Abbott

Australian journalist Lenore Taylor has been reporting incisive climate stories for a very long time.

In two recent (this and this) ‘must-read’ articles she has explained how the rubbery figures that Tony Abbott and others throw about are simply tosh.   Abbott is a  tenth (at best) generation photocopy of John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister from 1996 to 2007…  There is a fantastic book on this called High and Dry by Guy Pearse  I urge you all to read it, it is alarming in the extreme.

The myth that Australia cannot afford deep cuts in emissions is based on cunning and deceptive spin by John Howard. For example, on 16 August 2006, John Howard told parliament; ‘According to ABARE, a 50 per cent cut in Australian emissions by 2050 would lead to a 10 per cent fall in GDP, a 20 per cent fall in real wages, a carbon price equivalent to a doubling of petrol prices, and a staggering 600 per cent rise in electricity and gas prices. They are the calculation of the Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.; It was arguably the biggest lie in Howard’s thirty-three year political career and not one journalist picked it up. To give the impression that deep cuts in emissions would mean an economy in 2050 10 per cent smaller than today with 20 per cent lower wages than today, Howard’s numbers cunningly excluded the words,; compared with business as usual.’

ABARE had actually projected a 246 per cent increase in GDP not a 10 per cent fall, it projected an 81 per cent increase in real wages not a 20 per cent drop: and it made no claim about fuel prices doubling or electricity and gas prices rising by 600 per cent (the industry department confirmed to me that it , not ABARE, dreamt this up by ignoring energy efficiency improvements and applying $623 carbon tax today!)  The 600 per cent claim in fact overstates by seven-and-a-half times ABARE’s actual projected increase in electricity generation costs, which was 80 per cent by 2050 -just shy of real wages growth in its worst case scenario.

(Pearse, 2007: 377-8)