Sydney Alternative Media - independent, community, non profit, trustworthy

Home newswire ecology action

25 Sept 07-Tony Maher, chief of CFMEU dig it up/chop it down union embraces election double talk?

Tuesday, 25 September 2007
 
Tony Maher, Pres of the CFMEU dig it up, chop it down union embraces election double talk on climate?

Mood:  incredulous
Topic: globalWarming

When combined with real action on the ground, reading Tony Maher here below reminds me of Bob Carr champion of the forests in '93-95 while in Opposition, while always only ever committing to protection of 50% of legally identified wilderness. Carr's green wedge of the Lib-Nats succeeded in 1995. Then after 1997 Carr as Premier made it very clear by various policy settings he was NEVER going to end woodchipping of natural forest as promised in the 1995 election. We qualified our judgement of Carr from at least 1993 and this reservation was well vindicated.

Similarly we can say, the union/ALP federal complex is equally determined to wedge the Liberal National Party with the environment in another close election 2007, not hard given dinosaur Nationals crucial to Howard's PM status. Back then it was with forests in NSW against then Premier John Fahey in 1995, today it is leveraging the green iconic issue of climate change nationally. Many of us are willing participants in this wedge whether we realise it's Carr/Clive Hamilton's real politik strategy or not.
 
Bob Carr is patron of ... the Climate Institute headed up by spiv like John Connor who previously helped knowingly or not Carr's 97-99 corrupt forest election broken promise on woodchipped natural forest as CEO of  NSW Nature Conservation Council. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Connor went on to the ACF an ALP leaning outfit and at one point promoted the idea 'you don't have to sacrifice comfort to live sustainably'. Well maybe, but riding a bicycle is quite different to an expensive Prius.  And it's a bicycle kind of future at this juncture, and that's assuming there is oil to make the wheels. But some will always have their privileged enclave.
 
All of this means if, still quite a big if, and when the federal ALP wins this election it's going to be broken election climate change promises and a million extra population for Sydney and hyper development and God knows what other land use depradations.

And the Coalition are as bad. I think this piece below might better be referred to as 'Miners embrace election double talk' as per Anvil Hill, Moolarben coal mine approvals, power greedy desalination plant (on Stateline again last night) where Sydney gets 1.2 metres of rain a year, etc etc.

Miners embrace climate change

By Tony Maher

September 19, 2007 12:00am

IN The Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore speaks of his family's struggle to come to terms with their history as tobacco farmers.

When faced with the evidence of tobacco's harmful affects, the family's initial instinct is to ignore it - until Gore's sister is herself stricken with lung cancer and the charade of business as usual is crushed forever.

The scene struck a chord with me - the national leader of Australian coal miners - who is charged with looking after both short term interests of wages and conditions - as well as long-term job security.

How do I do justice to my members and their communities by ignoring the evidence of global warming and resisting change in the industry, or by intervening before the prognosis is terminal? For the CFMEU mining union, the answer has always been to face reality. As far back as the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 we have been active participants in the global discussion to deal with the impact of humans on the environment; and of the fossil fuels our members mine, in particular.

This is not some position cooked up by a political secretariat - it is driven by our membership in coal mines.

Whenever I speak to coal miners, it is climate change - rather than short-term issues like wages and conditions - that are at the top of their agenda.

They want to understand the science and get an honest appraisal of the action required to safeguard the planet.

They want to talk about ways the coal industry can clean up its act; they are excited about new ideas like geo-sequestration and clean coal technologies; and they want to see their government supporting these initiatives in practical ways.

They are also aware that their legitimate fears about their own job security risk making them political pawns in a scare campaign - and the membership won't be made anyone's fools.

Don't get me wrong; coal miners are not martyrs - they view those calling for the overnight closing down of the Australian mining industry as dangerous extremists. But they see the climate change deniers as potentially more dangerous; because long-term inaction will be the precursor to a crisis that may well leave such radical measures as the only practical response.

This is why my members took the extraordinary step of voting to spend $1 million on a TV advertising campaign calling on the Federal Government to get serious about climate change, warning of the dangers to Australian industries if we continue to do nothing.

It's why my members have passed resolutions calling on the Howard Government to ratify Kyoto and set binding clean energy targets.

It is why my members are prepared to work with the environment movement and mining companies to build a blueprint for our industry that reduces emissions while continuing to meet the nation's energy demands.

My members accept the reality of climate change and see it as their responsibility to be part of the solution.

They want their kids to be proud of the work they do and the role they can play in making the world safer.

So when Don Henry from the Australian Conservation Foundation suggested that apply to be part of Al Gore's Climate Project Leadership program - which commences in Melbourne this week - I was happy to step forward.

Inviting a miner to be part of the program shows how far we have come. We are not, as some imagine, interested in only profiting from the earth. We don't seek employment without responsibility. We aim to work with the earth, not against it.

Being part of Gore's program will not only give me a broader perspective on the issue; it will give the CFMEU greater credibility to speak out.

To me this is more than learning how to work a Powerpoint presentation.

It's actually a chance to learn from the experiences of a true world leader, someone whose personal story has driven his political crusade and finally is pushing the world to act.

And that resonates with Australian coal miners, who have dived into the deep end of the climate change debate.

We have chosen to swim with the tide on climate change rather than struggle against it.

Like those southern US tobacco farmers faced with their own Inconvenient Truth, we know that waiting for the shouting to die down is just not an option.

The world is changing. We are changing with it. Because those who don't are doomed.

FORMER US vice president Al Gore is speaking today at a luncheon event at Darling Harbour. The event is a sell-out. News Limited, publisher of The Daily Telegraph, is a part sponsor of the event through The Australian.)

* Tony Maher is general president of the CFMEU's mining division.

 

Back to index page Dangerous climate change, renewable energy issues

 

 

non-profit media about your environment, in a human rights and social justice context