Media Releases - 21 May 2020

The Wilderness Society's response to leaked gas plan

The Wilderness Society’s Federal Policy Director, Tim Beshara provides the following comments on the leaked report from the Manufacturing taskforce advising the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC).

Tim Beshara said, “Australia’s Ozymandian gas industry might be having their moment of political favour through being besties with the Morrison government, but that doesn’t mean that that favour is deserved or will necessarily amount to much for them. 

“Petro-state regimes, by their very nature, are unstable, and Australia is no exception to this. Political favour today can be gone tomorrow. The social licence for the sort of fossil-fuel wonderland outlined in the leaked report simply doesn’t exist. 

“Australians know far too well what happens when governments cut corners for this industry. The public is still carrying the clean-up costs for a litany of offshore and onshore disasters.

“Only recently, the Federal Government had to commandeer a rusting offshore oil platform because a company went into receivership, unable to carry out its decommissioning obligations. 

“Effective climate action and a genuine transition to renewable energy is urgently needed. ‘Technology agnosticism' has been little more than cover for the fossil fuel industry for decades now, yet routinely goes out the window when the fossil fuel industry gets exceptional political access, like with this report. 

“While the Liveris report vision is unlikely to ever fully turn into reality, there doesn’t mean that there won’t be damage along the way. It is plainly apparent that the fossil fuel industry is seeking to gut Australia’s already weak environment laws so they can make a last-gasp sprint to get the worst of their projects across the line before public opinion erodes further.

“Only a few days ago, the newly rediscovered last-known footage of the Tasmanian Tiger was shared with Australians. If the fossil fuel industry successfully guts Australia’s environment law for themselves, they also weaken environmental standards for every industry. The consequence of this free-for-all would be that Australians will continue to learn more about their wildlife from the archives, than they do from their local environs.

“There are already a range of opinions being aired from many groups around whether the Covid Commission and the Liveris Manufacturing Taskforce represent anything like due process. We add our voice to these concerns, specifically noting, that if this group is making recommendations on environment law, that the Environment Minister would normally form part of the consultation process. 

“Outsourcing policy-making to vested interests is what petro-state regimes do. Despite Australia currently displaying many petro-state traits, Australia still has a system of ‘responsible government’ with a cabinet process and we ask for that to be re-asserted here and for the Environment Minister to lead the Morrison Government on environment policy,” Tim Beshara concluded. 

For further comment contact Tim Beshara on 0437878786.