The ABC icon among Oz's 'dirty dozen'

Among the list of Australia's 12 most influential climate foes sits an ABC legend with a following to make shock-jocks - and the renewables industry - weep.

Crikey

Who has been most responsible in recent times for preventing progress in the reduction of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions? The Dirty Dozen – which I originally named in 2006 and updated in 2009  –  are the people who have most effectively denied the science of climate change, lied about its implications, lobbied to water down laws, or provided cover for weak policy.

They are doing most to help turn Australia from a reluctant leader into a proud laggard in responding to the most dire threat to the world’s future. Some are well-known – even if their links and tactics are not – while others do their dirty work behind the scenes. Here is my Dirty Dozen for 2014, in no particular order …

Ian McNamara

For too long the presenter of ABC Radio’s Sunday morning program Australia All Over has flown under the radar. When not chatting about the weather in Nuriootpa, Macca’s huge cohort of two million listeners (enough to make other shock jocks weep) is prone to debunking climate science and ridiculing renewable energy. He draws in his salt-of-the-earth listeners with a kind of folksy bush wisdom that has little time for eggheads with PhDs in atmospheric physics. Periodically, listeners complain to the ABC about McNamara’s "pot shots" at global warming and his penchant for inviting on his right-wing mates. If ABC management wants the definitive response to conservative politicians who complain that its coverage of climate change is biased (because it reports real science), it should point to Australia All Over. Macca beats Amanda Vanstone hands down as the ABC’s “right-wing Phillip Adams”.

But shouldn’t McNamara’s place among the Dirty Dozen be taken by Andrew Blot? Compared with McNamara’s numerous and impressionable listeners, Bolt’s 300,000 readers are beyond persuasion because they have already drunk the denier’s Kool-Aid. It’s true that Bolt’s impact has been multiplied by the activities of the keyboard militia of aggro deniers who fire off volleys of abuse to the “warmists” he rails against. However, most warmists now understand that the militia makes a lot of unpleasant noises but only fires blanks. The influence of Bolt on the landscape of climate denial has been exhausted.

Martin Ferguson

The former Australian Council of Trade Unions president now says Prime Minister Tony Abbott is not going far enough in cracking down on unions. But if “the working class can kiss my arse”, he retains his old workerist loathing of environmentalism. As minister for resources and energy in the Rudd and Gillard governments he was dirty industry’s best friend in cabinet, fighting tooth and nail to protect the interests of “his” industries and carving out massive subsidies for the big polluters. And after lobbying from coal companies, Ferguson was responsible for intensifying police and ASIO spying on environmental groups.

In 2009, blogger Andrew Bolt urged Ferguson to come out of the climate sceptic “closet”. Post-parliament he is out and proud. He chairs an advisory board for APPEA, representing gas and oil companies, in which role he almost qualifies as a member of the greenhouse mafia. But as an anti-climate policy lobbyist perhaps Ferguson’s new role as executive in charge of natural resources at Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings matters more. Stokes now makes much more money from mining than from TV, principally through ownership of Caterpillar dealerships in Australia and China, supplying mining trucks to Rio Tinto, BHP and pretty much every other mining company in Australia and northern China. Seven Group Holdings’ CEO is Don Voelte, who was head-hunted last year from Woodside Petroleum, from which position he was a member of the previous Dirty Dozen

This is an edited abstract of an article - The Dirty Dozen: Australia’s biggest climate foes - published on Crikey. For the full list, go here and here.

Originally published by Crikey. Reproduced with permission.

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