Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The Sydney Morning Herald traces the politicisation of climate change in Australia to the day Tony Abbott fired climate advisor Tim Flannery from his $180K / year part time job. But they are ignoring Flannery’s track record of spectacular failures.
‘You bastards sacked me.’ When the climate sceptics arrived
How did environmental issues become so politicised? The people purge early in the Abbott government – beginning in 2013 with the “night of the short knives” – gives some clues.
By Marian Wilkinson
AUGUST 29, 2020
On the first day of the new Abbott government, Australia’s climate scientists got a pretty clear message. It was September 18, 2013, and within 24 hours of the swearing-in ceremony at Government House in Yarralumla, the new environment minister, Greg Hunt, had called the head of the Climate Commission and sacked him.
“It was a short and courteous conversation,” Dr Tim Flannery recalls. “I’m pretty sure that cabinet hadn’t been convened when they did it. My very strong recollection is that it was their very first act in government.”
Flannery’s colleague on the commission, Professor Will Steffen from the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute, was also sacked, along with all the other commission members. “I think we were the first definitive action of the Abbott government,” Steffen recalls. “They got rid of us and you could probably measure it in hours rather than days.”
What surprised the scientists most was not their hasty sacking but how quickly the government obliterated their work. “The website that we’d spent a lot of time building was taken down with absolutely no justification as far as I could see,” says Flannery, the one-time principal research scientist at the Australian Museum and internationally renowned scientific author. “It was giving basic information that was being used by many, many people – teachers and others – just to gain a better understanding of what climate science was actually about.”
“People were sent hell, west and crooked,” says Allan Behm, the former chief of staff for Labor’s climate change minister Greg Combet. Behm had served for years as a senior defence bureaucrat. “I couldn’t find any work. Nobody would touch us,” he tells me.
This is an edited extract from Marian Wilkinson’s The Carbon Club (Allen & Unwin, $33), out Monday.Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/national/you-bastards-sacked-me-when-the-climate-sceptics-arrived-20200626-p556nn.html
The Carbon Club is available here. The subtitle is The inside story of how a network of influential climate sceptics, politicians and business leaders fought to control Australia’s response to the climate crisis.
Flannery’s self righteous indignation is kind of funny, but Tim Flannery should have expected no less, after his spectacularly failed prediction that dams would never fill again.
Some Flannery apologists have tried to claim Flannery didn’t say dams would never fill. But the evidence is not difficult to find – the following is a quote from the transcript of Flannery’s interview on the ABC in 2007.
SALLY SARA: What will it mean for Australian farmers if the predictions of climate change are correct and little is done to stop it? What will that mean for a farmer?
PROFESSOR TIM FLANNERY: We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off. Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, and that’s a real worry for the people in the bush. If that trend continues then I think we’re going to have serious problems, particularly for irrigation.
…Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/local/archives/landline/content/2006/s1844398.htm
Together with Flannery’s failed promotion of geothermal energy, not to mention the massive public investment in desalination plants which resulted in my opinion from Flannery’s permanent drought fear mongering, even the people who hired Flannery might have eventually fired him.
When asked prior to the election he won about his thoughts on firing Flannery and his climate commission, former Aussie PM Tony Abbott said the following:
Mr Abbott said if elected as prime minister on September 14 and given the opportunity to revoke the carbon tax a whole range of climate change bureaucracies would also be axed.
“I suspect we might find the particular position you refer to might go with them,” Mr Abbott told 2GB’s Ray Hadley when asked about Professor Flannery.
“It does sound like an unnecessary position given the gentlemen in question gives us the benefit of his views without needing taxpayer funding.”
…Read more: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/victoria-to-suffer-extreme-weather-warn-climate-scientists/news-story/f7c22ce273af651341fa437d5e95ae52