At a critical time for the climate and environment, the Young Liberals in the Australian Capital Territory saw fit to auction off a piece of coal as part of a fundraiser, writes Michael Mazengarb.
AS THE WORLD'S scientists were preparing to release their most comprehensive statement of the science of climate change, with new warnings of the potential impacts of global warming, the ACT Young Liberals were boosting their coffers by auctioning off a lump of coal.
On Saturday evening, the ACT Young Liberals held a "Midwinter Ball" fundraising event, which offered – amongst other attractions – the chance to purchase a piece of coal produced from one of Australia’s most controversial coal mines, the Adani-owned Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.
According to reports, the piece of coal was sold to a Liberal Party donor for thousands of dollars.
Coal was first produced from the Carmichael Mine in June, in response to which chairman of Adani Group, Gautam Adani, said:
“...there couldn’t be a better birthday gift."
The fundraising event was attended by senior members of the Canberra Liberals, including ACT Liberal Leader Elizabeth Lee – who also happens to serve as the ACT Shadow Minister for Climate Action – Deputy ACT Liberal leader Giulia Jones and other members of the ACT Liberals shadow ministry, including Mark Parton, Peter Cain and James Milligan.
The event was also attended by a number of senior federal and right-wing Liberal officials – in Canberra for parliamentary sittings – including ACT Senator Zed Seselja, former frontbencher Kevin Andrews, South Australian MP Tony Pasin and the Chief of Staff of Federal Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General Amanda Stoker.
Tickets to the fundraising event, held at Canberra’s Hotel Realm, weren’t cheap, starting at $160 for Young Liberal party members, through to $600 a seat for corporate attendees.
As reported by The Australian, a piece of coal extracted from the Carmichael coal mine, being developed by Bravus Mining (the rebranded Australian arm of Adani Mining), was auctioned off as part of the ACT Young Liberal’s fundraising efforts during the Gala Ball.
An unnamed attendee is reported to have paid $2,600 for the lump of coal with the proceeds going to the ACT Young Liberals. It is not yet known who donated the coal for the auction.
The auction stands in stark contrast to the dire warning issued by the world’s climate scientists, and ACT Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Shane Rattenbury, expressed dismay at a piece of coal being used to fundraise funds for the Liberals.
“In the same week the IPCC report came out, an attendee at the ACT Young Liberals’ Midwinter Ball on Saturday paid $2,600 during the fundraiser for a literal lump of coal from the Adani mine. I can’t tell which I find more insulting – the fact that the organisers thought this was a good idea or the purchaser who paid an average person’s fortnightly income for it.”
Either way, it is openly mocking the climate crisis that Australia and the world faces. I’d like to see the Canberra Liberal members in attendance to disavow this behaviour, and agree that climate change, burning fossil fuels and the Adani mine are matters to take seriously, not to laugh at.
We need a firm plan to get out of coal and gas, cut emissions and deal with the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Anything less is a reckless denial of reality.
The Young Liberals, as a gateway for young people to join the Liberal Party, is intended to foster the emergence of new party members into the wider Liberal Party movement and has sparked the political careers for many who have found their way into senior positions of power.
Former national presidents of the Young Liberals have included federal parliamentarians Alex Hawke, Jason Falinski, Trent Zimmerman, Marise Payne and Phillip Ruddock.
A former President of the ACT Young Liberals, Josh Manuatu, served as both the National President of the Young Liberal Movement of Australia and as an adviser to Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor.
The Canberra Liberals have been contacted for comment.
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