Turnbull of Abbott and climate change back in December 2009. (Image via @smh)

John Ward investigates the misleading campaign against renewable energy by coal and oil interests using the Turnbull Government as the attacking force.

ARE YOU confused by the issues of alternative energy and climate change?

This is why.

(Please click on URLs to access reference and supporting articles.)

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim MD PhD recently stated that it was crazy that governments were still driving the use of coal, oil and gas by providing subsidies.

Said the president:

“We need to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies now.”

In July 2016, Nicholas Stern estimated that tackling climate change would require investment of 2% of world GDP each year. The IMF indicates that if governments stopped world fossil subsidies of $5.6 trillions per year, it would benefit world GDP a year by 3.8%.


How did the fossil fuel industry react to this knowledge in 1980?

The Global Climate Science Communications Plan, written with the direct involvement of fossil fuel companies including ExxonMobil (then Exxon) and Chevron, detailed a plan for dealing with climate change that explicitly aimed to confuse and misinform the public.

How did governments and fossil fuel industries collude?

There is collusion to bring about World Government subsidies of $5.6 trillions per annum (according to the IMF calculations), to create the illusion of low costs and reliable coal generated electricity, and to manage, resist and delay the growing threat of investment in renewable energy as competition to the dominance of the fossil fuel sector.

There certainly has been a climate hoax that continues today. It is the four decades long campaign by the world’s largest fossil fuel companies to deceive the public by distorting the realities and risks of climate change.

Why do taxpayer funds subsidise the fossil fuel industry while coal and oil giants pay virtually no tax?

Malcolm Turnbull has been subsidising the fossil fuel industry with, according to IMF estimates, $1,712 per Australian a year, or $41 billion of taxpayer funds. This includes exploration funding for Geoscience Australia, and tax deductions for mining and petroleum exploration. The IMF calculates that Australians subsidisations to the fossil fuel industry account for hidden adverse costs spread out across the states and the ATO that, ultimately, permanently come out of taxpayers’ pockets.

Why does the CEFC cause offence to the fossil fuel industry, its institutions and its front group, the IPA?

In 2013, Tony Abbott addressed the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

"I want to assure you" he said, "that the coalition will repeal the carbon tax, abolish the Department of Climate Change, and abolish the Clean Energy Fund. (CEFC)".

That was his intent. However, the legislature (Parliament) twice refused to allow the executive’s bill to abolish the CEFC Act to become law.

To undermine the purpose of the Act, the executive attempted for two years to alter the CEFC investment mandate by revoking a provision of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012. The fact is any change to the CEFC Act 2012 must be to the original Act. Altering the CEFC Act to achieve the executive’s purpose can only be done by going back to the Senate.

What is the CEFC?

The CEFC was set up by the Gillard Government in 2012.

It mobilises capital investment to facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector in renewable energy, low-emission technology and energy efficiency in Australia.

The corporation operates like a traditional financer, working with co-financers and project proponents to seek ways to secure financing solutions for the clean energy sector.

Was the aim to change the law or maximise confusion and demoralise the alternative energy participants?

Coalition ministers have schemed with coal and oil corporations to support coal generation of electricity, and attacked alternative energy by removing all possible funds from the CEFC.

Treasurer Hockey created a disruption so great that the alternative energy industry collapsed by 88%, mirroring a similar executive incursion into the car manufacturing sector. Prime Minister Turnbull caused similar disruption during the 2016 election campaign by pledging a total amount of $6.5 billion, left in the CEFC account to other non-climate change related LNP causes.

As the PM reallocates funds, he is disrupting and ignoring the directly expressed objectives of the Act — that the CEFC invest to increase the flow of finance into the clean energy sector.

Also ignored were the CEFC’s constitutional functions relating to external affairs powers (section 51(xxix) of the Constitution) — that is, giving effect to Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Climate Change Convention, by investing in the development of renewable energy and low-emission technologies that could reasonably be expected to control, reduce or prevent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.

Recently, the cabinet created a third investment directive to modify the intent of the CEFC Act and, in so doing, has exceeded its authority, ignoring the need to return to the Parliament to get the required authority from the legislature. By doing so they are committing misfeasance, by benefitting the coal and oil energy sector, but causing a deficit to the alternative energy sector.

Expressed or implied, which is it?

Ministers Hunt and Cormann have claimed that the power to issue new investment mandates is implied in section 64(1) of the Act, what they continue to ignore are the express limits placed on them by section 65. As responsible ministers, they cannot issue direction that has the purpose or that is likely to have the effect, of directly or indirectly requiring the board to, or not to, make a particular investment that is inconsistent with the CEFC Act – (including the object of the Act), which is:

'The Object of this Act is to establish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector.'

When will the correct interpretation be made to sweep away this manufactured confusion?

The level of malfeasance, and misfeasance and corruption, in Federal and state governments must be addressed by courts as a matter of urgency. The High Court and Federal Courts are ultimately the only judicial bodies with the constitutional authority to address these executive levels of wrongdoing.

The fundamental rule of interpretation is that a statute is to be expounded according to the intent of the parliament that made it and that intention has to be found by an examination of the language used in the statute as a whole. It is abundantly clear that the Parliament that produced the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 intended that the Act not be easily diverted or altered by new directives inimical to its purpose.

As former Chief Justice Murray Gleeson said in his ABC Boyer Lecture ‘The Rule of Law:

The High Court is given jurisdiction in matters in which a writ of mandamus or prohibition or an injunction is sought against an officer of the Commonwealth. This jurisdiction cannot be altered or taken away by Parliament. It confers on the High Court the power, by making certain forms of order that historically followed judicial review of executive action, to compel officers of the Commonwealth to act according to law. The expression 'officer of the Commonwealth' includes the Prime Minister and Ministers, and all public servants. The effect of the provision is, no one is above the law. Thus government officials must exercise their powers according to law. If they do not, then, in the last resort, the High Court may order them to do so The Constitution, which is the basic law, itself declares that the government must obey the law, and gives the High Court the jurisdiction to compel such obedience.

That jurisdiction cannot be removed or modified except by constitutional amendment.

Parliament, if acting within the limits of the powers assigned to it by the Constitution, may change the law. The executive government must obey the law. That is what the rule of law means.

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