Pat Conroy is a federal Labor politician who represents the electorate of Shortland, in the outer suburbs of Newcastle and much of Lake Macquarie, New South Wales. One of the major industries in this area is coal mining1, and several collieries are located within Conroy’s electorate. Despite this, Conroy was being honest when he said: “I’m saying to people that when our existing coal-fired power stations reach the end of their useful life, and some of them already have, then they will be replaced, absent a subsidy by government, with renewable energy backed up by gas or pumped hydro storage. That is what I tell miners; that is what I tell people in the industry because it is the truth. The weakest and most spineless thing you can do is lie to constituents and say that we can keep going on the way we are going and mislead people, which is what Tony Abbott and Matt Canavan and all that crew are saying”2. Such honesty is refreshing in a politician, and is sorely needed from more of them. The surprising thing about this, is that the article from which this quote was taken, appeared in Murdoch’s Australian ‘newspaper’. Could it be that the ‘ruperters’ at the Australian3 are starting to come to grips with the reality of climate change? Don’t hold your breath in anticipation of that happening.
Newcastle is also the biggest coal port in the world, with 159 million tonnes of black coal being exported through the port in 2014. Despite this, in 2015, the Newcastle City Council voted 6:5 to alter its policies to steer its $270 million funds into banks involved in “environmentally and socially responsible investments” and avoiding investments which lead to “harmful activities” such as greenhouse gas generation. One of the dissenting voices, Liberal councillor, Brad Luke, maintained that it would be taking the city “back to the stone age”. He also said that such a move would punish the biggest employer in the region and the unions4. For a member of the Liberal Party to express concern for unions, is the height of hypocrisy because, since the election of the Howard government, their ethos has been to destroy the union movement; in addition to shovelling more money to the wealthy, that is.
If anything is destined to take us back to the stone age, it is the attitudes of buffoons like Luke, Abbott and Canavan, and the lies they tell.