Australian news, and some related international items

Scott Morrison doesn’t like even the “quiet people” speaking up

Morrison doesn’t like it when the quiet Australians start to speak up, Canberra Times, Ebony Bennett , 2 Nov 19,

In his government’s latest free-speech crackdown, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed to outlaw civil society groups campaigning against Australian businesses that work with companies with dubious environmental, human rights or ethical records.

Morrison’s plan would criminalise, for example, the thousands of young people who joined the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s call for the Commonwealth Bank not to finance Adani’s coal mine. A generation of Dollarmite kids, who would quite like to protect the remaining half of the Great Barrier Reef from mass bleaching, used stickers, posters and ATM signs to ask the Commonwealth Bank not to lend to Adani’s coal mine. This secondary boycott (targeting one entity through its relationship to another) worked.

The bank ruled out lending to Adani, as did other banks – in part because AYCC’s Dollarmite protests were a real risk to their brand (this was before the banking royal commission tanked it) but also because Adani’s coal mine is a dud project that has failed to secure finance from virtually any bank or investor, except for billionaire Gautam Adani himself. 

Scott Morrison says this style of campaigning “is a potentially more insidious threat to the Queensland economy and jobs and living standards than a street protest”.

Is Australia a democracy or not? The fact the Prime Minster of Australia considers street protests an “insidious threat” to anything is shocking in itself. The risk to free speech from a clampdown on secondary boycotts was clearly articulated by the then-director of policy at the Institute of Public Affairs, Simon Breheny, who said: “Freedom of speech is vitally important for a properly functioning economy. Liberal democracies should never be in the game of clamping down on an individual’s freedom to express their values in the choices they make through the market. Advocating for or against a particular company’s practices is an important part of that equation.”

That was in 2014, when former prime minister Tony Abbott proposed a ban on secondary boycotts. Australia’s competition laws already restrict secondary boycotts – but that is mostly targeted at unions, with exemptions for campaigns run by environmental and consumer groups……

Scott Morrison doesn’t like it when quiet Australians break their silence and take aim at dodgy companies or those who choose to provide services to them – especially when they’re in his favoured industries, like the coal industry. While the Coalition government rolls out the red carpet for the coal industry, it can’t pull up the drawbridge fast enough when it comes to renewables.

If the Minerals Council says jump, the federal government (and NSW and Queensland governments) say “how high?” Whereas the Coalition government has done its level best to kill off the renewables industry. Thankfully, in the long term they have been about as effective at killing off renewables as they have been at cutting emissions: hopeless.

The Morrison government regularly boasts about Australia’s record on renewables, but the fact is it is single-handedly destroying the holy trinity of renewable energy policy: the Renewable Energy Target (RET), the Australian Renewable Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Collectively, the RET, ARENA and the CEFC are responsible for unleashing $23.4 billion worth of investment in renewable energy over a five-year period (2013-18). But there’s nothing the Coalition loves more than throwing sand in the gears of the success of the renewables industry.

Looking ahead, the RET has been exhausted, ARENA is running out of money and the last bastion of renewable energy investment, the CEFC, is now being bastardised to fund fossil-fuel projects……..

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has gone to great pains to talk up renewables, but the truth is that the PM is quite happy to wreck the renewables revolution. He labels those who protest companies wrecking our environment as “selfish and indulgent”, but the truth is that under Scott Morrison, free speech is reserved only for people with paid jobs, and protests are only to be tolerated at convenient times, in convenient places.

If you don’t like it, shut up – or Scott Morrison will make you shut up.

How good is Australia?

November 2, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming, politics

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