Lawsuit: Aussie Government Not Applying Climate Disclosure Rules to Government Bonds

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

A Melbourne law student is suing the Australian Government for not applying government climate disclosure regulations to the government’s own financial operations.

Australian Government sued by 23-year-old Melbourne student over financial risks of climate change

By national science, technology and environment reporter Michael Slezak and the Specialist Reporting Team’s Rahni Sadler

A 23-year-old Melbourne law student is suing the Australian Government for failing to disclose the risk climate change poses to Australians’ super and other safe investments.

The world-first case filed on Wednesday in the Federal Court alleges the Government, as well as two government officials, failed in a duty to disclose how climate change would impact the value of government bonds. 

Katta O’Donnell, the head litigant for the class action suit, said she hoped the case would change the way Australia handled climate change. 

“I’m suing the Government because I’m 23 [and] I think I need to be aware of the risks to my money and to the whole of society and the Australian economy,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“I think the Government needs to stop keeping us in the dark so we can be aware of the risks that we’re all faced with.”

Experts say it is the first where a national government has been sued for its lack of transparency on climate risks.

Ms O’Donnell’s lawyer, David Barnden from Equity Generation Lawyers, said the duty to be transparent extended to the Government.

We allege that the Government is misleading and deceiving investors by not telling them about the risks,” Mr Barnden said.

“We don’t see any disclosure to investors about the risks that climate change poses to bonds and to society as a whole. So it certainly appears as though there is a double standard.”

Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-22/student-sues-australian-government-over-climate-change/12480612

I wonder if California and other green US states apply the climate disclosure rules they inflict on others to their own debt instruments?

This lawsuit like other climate litigation is based on the absurd premise that anthropogenic climate change is significant threat.

But it is hilarious to see someone attacking governments with their own green virtue signalling. If the lawsuit succeeds, and if applying climate disclosure rules drives up the cost of government borrowing, it will likely be the death of climate disclosure rules.

50 thoughts on “Lawsuit: Aussie Government Not Applying Climate Disclosure Rules to Government Bonds

  1. Brilliant bit of logic. Sue the government and get taxpayers to pay if the government loses. Better still the cost of doing business will increase for the government and fewer people will in the future be able to attend the University that this individual has the privilege to attend now.

    • Or, just just let them keep getting away with it. Plus, is this lawsuit for personal gain, or telling them to put up or shut up when it comes to climate hypocrisy.

  2. She will need to properly define the term “climate change.” Which aspects of “climate change” are the issue. As she is making the allegations, the scientific proof needs to be forwarded. Without scientific evidence, there is no case.
    I dare say , as the action emanates from Victoristan, the Government lawyers will allow the assumption that the 3% of CO2 increase that is of human origin being the dominant cause of catastrophic global warming/ “climate change”(whatever that actually means) to be valid. It is a shame that members of the public are not allowed to submit input. It would be good to be able to cross examine the complainant about the whereabouts of the scientific papers that demonstrate this assumption. No evidence=no case.

    • Actually, she doesn’t need to define a thing, nor provide scientific proof of any sort. The regulations embody, a priori, the relevant “facts”. It is simply a matter of whether or not the government is complying with its own regulations.

      As I recall, in the US anyway, certain debt instruments may be offered with less disclosure than might otherwise be called for because there is virtually no secondary market, more along the lines of a private loan between parties. I doubt OZ government can hide behind this fig leaf, assuming it’s even available.

  3. How appropriate. We’re just starting to see this kind of reverse legal shaming in the US. People will only take being abused for so long.

  4. To which climate does this pertain? Specifically what region and what climate classification is to be considered? What classification has the specified climate changed FROM, and TO what classification is sugested? Do these people understand that climate is REGIONAL?

  5. read for The Australian’s response:

    24 Jul: Australian Press Council: Adjudication 1782: Complainant / The Australian (July 2020)
    The Press Council considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article by Emeritus Professor Ian Plimer headed “Let’s not pollute minds with carbon fears” published by The Australian in print and online on 22 November 2019.

    The article was an opinion piece in which the writer criticised what he described as an “attack” on carbon dioxide. The article included statements that there “are no carbon emissions. If there were, we could not see because most carbon is black. Such terms are deliberately misleading, as are many claims.” The article also referred to “fraudulent changing of past weather records” and “unsubstantiated claims polar ice is melting”, as well as “the ignoring of data that shows Pacific islands and the Maldives are growing rather than being inundated…”.

    In response to complaints received, the Council asked the publication to comment on whether the article breached the applicable Standards of Practice requiring publications to take reasonable steps to ensure factual material is accurate and not misleading (General Principle 1) and to ensure factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance and writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts (General Principle 3). In light of a concern raised that Professor Plimer was or has been a director of a number of mining companies and that this was not disclosed in the article, the Council also asked the publication to comment on whether the article breached the obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure that conflicts of interests are avoided or adequately disclosed, and that they do not influence published material (General Principle 8)…

    from Conclusion
    The Council considers that the statement concerning the Bureau of Meteorology fraudulently changing weather records is one of fact and implies an element of dishonesty or deception on its part. The Council does not consider there was anything in the material relied upon by the publication to substantiate this…
    https://www.presscouncil.org.au/document-search/adj-1782/

  6. Should this law student ever have gone skiing in the Snowy Mountains, SCUBA diving on the Barrier Reef, visited Kakadu or the Aussie inland bush, she would be admitting that ‘climate’ is of no concern to her or she would not have exposed herself to so many different ones.

    She hasn’t lived long enough for her to create a personal concept of ‘climate’, a 30 year average of weather, never mind climate change.

    • When I saw “Ms”, “student”, “law” and 23 my eyes rolled! Too young to know anything about anything especially science.

      • Why is the student’s sex such a cause for concern? And I would have thought that a law student
        would be quite likely to know whether or not the government is complying with the law. All she
        is doing is requiring the government to obey the same laws that they force onto companies.
        Nothing to do with science — purely a legal argument.

        • I bet you haven’t met a 23 year old Australian female law student have you? If you think American female students are PC “woke” SJW’s, come to Aus for some enlightenment.

          • Shame on you Patrick.
            A moron law student is a moron law student.
            It doesn’t matter if they are a Mr
            , Mrs, Miss, Ms, or X or whatever

          • “Waza July 25, 2020 at 12:09 am”

            I’ll stand by my comment, which is not sexist, based on experience. If you want to see how bad it can get, go see what is happening in New Zealand.

          • Patrick
            “I’ll stand by my comment, which is not sexist, based on experience. If you want to see how bad it can get, go see what is happening in New Zealand.”
            And what is happening in New Zealand?

          • “Simon July 25, 2020 at 2:14 pm

            And what is happening in New Zealand?”

            Don’t claim to be a man.

          • Patrick
            What? So you make a weird comment about NZ and how “bad” it is, but seem to have no idea why you made it. Then you produce some lame comment about my manhood. What a strange man you are.

        • In defence of, well, everyone, I would suggest that ‘Ms’ was given by the ABC writer.

          As for the rest? Fully supports my theory that the primary function of higher education is to keep the unemployable out of the crowded youth job market.

        • Patrick MJD
          Wow, you are some guy. You can make judgements on my masculinity, but can’t answer a simple question re your own comments about a county. Well Patrick let me tell you, I would rather be considered to be “emasculated” than be a sad old sexist male who is clearly threatened by clever young women…. and who is either unable or unwilling to back up his sweeping statements about a country he has denigrated….. Just saying.

  7. “We allege that the Government is misleading and deceiving investors by not telling them about the risks,”
    How long will it be before the shoe is on the other foot, when Governments can sue greenies for the gross miss information that has resulted in trillions of tax payers money wasted on man made climate change mitigation failures.

  8. The Melbourne law student Katta O’Donnell is apparently a student at Latrobe university , in the north of Melbourne.
    Latrobe like other Melbourne universities CLAIM to be net zero emissions.
    BUT they will not disclose the act figures or contracts.

    One example ( but not Latrobe) is the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.
    https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/news-and-media/Pages/council-now-powered-by-100-per-cent-renewable-energy.aspx

    The claim by several parties is that they are powered by 100% renewable energy.
    This is blatantly a lie, and they will not disclose the agreement with the Crowlands wind farm.
    My estimate is there is no way Crowlands can provide the 100% of electricity if is output is below about 15%. It is often below 15%

    • I wonder how many other companies say they are 100% renewable because of purchasing electricity from Crowlands. 😉

      • There are 14 organisations that are subject to the power purchase agreement.PPA
        They include councils banks and universities. Many use sneaky language about being now net zero emissions.
        But the City of Melbourne claims 100% renewables electricity from Crowlands.
        The agreement is to purchase 1/3 of the output of Crowlands or 88GWhr
        Crowlands is 80mw.
        I think it works out the 1/3 must be at an average of 12.5% output.
        Real time output shows Crowlands averaging less than 1% in the last 12 hours.
        Real time right now the City of Melbourne must be using electrons from fossil fuel, so the 100% is a lie.

  9. Ha ha ha! Hey, wait, that’s MY government you’re talking about!
    I have a very simple solution – The Feds (ours) can just put “Don’t Know” in that little box to fill in on any disclosure document. Mainly because it’s true, but also because it’s clear that other black swan factors, like an international financial crisis, or a CCPVID-19 pandemic, will have a far more important influence on future bond yields than climate drift.

  10. The RISK to capital comes not from a slightly warming climate, that is a big positive.

    but from all the wasted and extravagant costs involved in any vain attempt to try to stop this natural warming

    The “climate change agenda” is the real risk to world wide prosperity..

  11. And what happens when a change of government changes the policies which change the projected “impacts to business, economy and investments”? Can the citizens, who effectively voted for or against these policies changes, then claim compensation from the government?
    Like the claims for homes on sand washing away, government policies that permit faultily constructed apartments, excessive impact from light rail construction, sinking homes above new tunnels or sudden closure of live exports?
    What happens if we don’t reach 1m mean sea level rise or >2C temperature rises or another wild prediction?

  12. Shame on you Patrick.
    A moron law student is a moron law student.
    It doesn’t matter if they are a Mr
    , Mrs, Miss, Ms, or X or whatever

  13. John in Oz wrote,
    “She hasn’t lived long enough for her to create a personal concept of ‘climate’, a 30 year average of weather, never mind climate change.”
    John, I think you might like the way this fellow put it.

    “One of the many disservices done to young people by our schools and colleges is giving them the puffed up notion that they are in a position to pass sweeping judgments on a world that they have barely begun to experience.”
    Thomas Sowell

  14. A government bond is a contract between a government and a purchaser that at the expiration of the bond the government will pay the bond owner then agreed upon face value of the bond. As such there can be no risk to the bond owner due to climate change – unless the government declares itself bankrupt and repudiates all bonds.

    The way Australia is going – borrowing money left right and centre – this is always possible. But one can doubt if this is a risk that should be declared. Surely the old legal rule applies – Let the buyer beware.

    Lawyers – professional or amateur – please add your comments on this. I will be very interested to see what the court declares.

    • On the bond front you first have to hold a government bond to have legal standing … first hurdle bet she doesn’t. She probably has superannuation so can have a crack at that one but the logic will go, any damages goes to the superfund which can’t be touch until 65 (unless you are born 1960-65 or earlier) or extreme hardship.

      Now imagine an amazing High Court result and the Australian government lost it would pay compensation to the super funds. About 1 month after that they would increase the withdrawal tax and recover all the money.

      It’s called a hiding to nothing because under no circumstance will anyone ever see any money.

      What it does do is create a news story for idiots in the MSM to push.

  15. Various Australian State governments are at the moment concentrated with the ‘Your All Going To Die” scaremongering aided and abetted by the MSM. in regard to the Sars MK2 virus.

    They will get around to the “Climate Change “Your all going to die” agenda shortly – after the virus is diminished

  16. If the lawsuit succeeds, and if applying climate disclosure rules drives up the cost of government borrowing, it will likely be the death of government borrowing.

    Figure the consequences.

  17. if the judges are smart theyll just tell her to investigate the super funds or whatever for their green claims and invest there.
    problem solved
    Morrison et al have far more worrisome things to be doing right now and ongoing.
    might even shut dandrews and his green scams down as well wit luck

  18. Down in the depths of an Australian website is there not a study of meteorological sites within 1000km of Alice which shows no warming for 100 years? Or did I dream it?

    • I don’t know if this is of interest , but if you look for the 22.5S, 132.5E gridbox on Crutem4 visualisation via google earth
      https://crudata.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/crutem/ge/
      you can see the seasonal anomalies back to about 1890.
      The summer (Dec-Feb) anomalies, at the turn of the century 20/21 are similar (except for 2019) to those of the 19/20 century period . It was the middle of the 20th century when it cooled significantly (all seasons). Winter temperatures by contrast show an increased recent anomaly.

  19. There is zero risk in the issuing of government bonds; climate or otherwise. The government creates the money so can never default.

    The AUD may be worthless in terms of what it can buy but the face value of ant government bond can always be honoured.

    It is really a test case for MMT. If the case is pursued it will simply confirm the validity of MMT. Put simply, no government can go broke by issuing debt in the money it creates.

    The greater risk to Australian super funds is the high level of investment in weather dependent power generation that relies on government subsidy for viability. Under current legislation, the subsidies are declining in Australia as the RET is met. I am uncertain if they can survive when the subsidies disappear.

  20. I am curious as to her motivation for doing this. A climate sceptic would pursue this course of action to harass governments as they have been harassing oil companies.

    Looking at her age though, I suspect she might actually believe in catastrophic climate change, and feels government should warn everyone in every possible way about its future impact.

    No telling how this lawsuit will progress, but the outcome could set precedence for other such lawsuits against non-governmental parties.

    If I were the government, I would reach a pre-trial settlement, and agree to add such warnings. I doubt if they would impact the bond offerings a whit. A government win in court would cause problems trying to sue oil companies.

  21. OK, let’s following this through to its logical end. The Australian Government is forced to spend several $billion AUD for a multi-year, peer-reviewed study that ends up with the answer that “the (current climate change) risks to my money and to the whole of society and the Australian economy” is 0.042.

    Now, what does Ms. Katta O’Donnell—and in fact the rest of the Australian populace—do with that answer?

    (with intentional, but oblique, reference to Doug Adams’ Deep Thought)

  22. It is lawfare.
    After the Government says what are the values everyone will be forced to obey them. And those that supposedly contribute to evil climate change are to be punished.

  23. The very real costs of “Climate Change” from government include;
    — shuttering or bankrupting of companies in the industrial sector, metals and mining;
    –large increases in costs for “renewable” wind and solar;
    –increased taxes to pay favored groups of “green” companies; increases in fires due to failure to fund or permit sound forestry and wildlands practices;
    –refusal to allow farmers to use their lands for their own purposes;
    –ending the free speech and free inquiry rights of scientists at major universities in Oz;
    –creating hysteria over the threats to the Great Barrier Reef that appear to be episodic and from which the oceans seem to have ample tools to recover;
    –reduced economic growth due to misalocation of resources;
    –and corrupting the weather services to fiddle with records of historical climate.

    But, I am sure that these are not costs that the litigant has in mind.

  24. The very real costs of “Climate Change” from government include:
    — shuttering or bankrupting of companies in the industrial sector, metals and mining;
    –large increases in costs for “renewable” wind and solar;
    –increased taxes to pay favored groups of “green” companies; increases in fires due to failure to fund or permit sound forestry and wildlands practices;
    –refusal to allow farmers to use their lands for their own purposes;
    –ending the free speech and free inquiry rights of scientists at major universities in Oz;
    –creating hysteria over the threats to the Great Barrier Reef that appear to be episodic and from which the oceans seem to have ample tools to recover;
    –reduced economic growth due to misalocation of resources;
    –and corrupting the weather services to fiddle with records of historical climate.

    But, I am sure that these are not costs that the litigant has in mind.

  25. No a law student isn’t suing the Government. Unless he has a lot of money.
    Whoever is paying the legal bill is suing. I wonder who that is?

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