The Business Council of Australia (BCA) is an industry association that comprises the chief executives of over a hundred of Australia’s biggest corporations. It was formed in 1983 by the merger of the Business Roundtable – a spin-off of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and the Australian Industry Development Association. The organisation has its headquarters in Melbourne but has offices in Sydney and Canberra. Its stated goal is to give the business community a greater voice in public policy debates about the direction of Australian society. It is therefore simply a lobby group1.
A new report by the Business Council of Australia (BCA) has predicted an $890 billion boost to economic activity as a result of dramatically cutting carbon emissions, and the creation of 195,000 jobs over the next five decades, particularly in regional areas. They also warned that forging a path to net zero would require a significant 2030 emissions reduction target and that a “46 to 50 per cent emission reduction range is both pragmatic and ambitious”. The BCA represents some of Australia’s highest emitters such as energy and mining companies. It continued: “The continued decarbonisation of the electricity system – combined with wind and solar driving down electricity prices – will unlock opportunities for other sectors to electrify and reduce emissions”2.
Back in 2015, prior to the Paris climate conference, the Labor Party committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and to cutting emissions by 45% by 2030. In addition, Labor condemned the 2030 emissions reduction target of 26-28% which the Coalition government pledged for the Paris meeting, as “pathetic”3. In June, 2018, the BCA made public statements in support of the Coalition’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG), a policy that had the emissions reduction target of 26% by 2030. The NEG was dumped by Scott Morrison when he deposed Malcolm Turnbull. At the time, the BCA described that level of emissions reduction as “workable” but characterised Labor’s 2030 target of 45% as “economy wrecking”4.
As you would expect, at the time of the election, a story appeared in the Murdoch media under the headline ‘Economist warns Labor’s emissions reduction target will cost economy $264 million’. In addition to this supposed cost, this ‘modelling’ also suggested 167,000 jobs would disappear. The modelling was by agricultural scientist Brian Fisher and was used to attack Labor’s 45% emissions reduction by 2030 target. At the time, Labor’s climate change spokesman Mark Butler rubbished the “dodgy” modelling5. Brian Fisher is the fossil fuel industry’s go-to consultant. That industry has paid for much of Fisher’s so-called ‘research’. In this case, the modelling was not credible because it failed to consider the benefits from investing in renewable energy as well as failing to quantify the costs of not acting to prevent climate change. In addition, several of his findings were implausible and his findings on electricity prices were contrary to a range of detailed Australian studies which showed more renewable energy meant lower wholesale electricity prices6.
The business council and its supporters are saying that this change of heart by the BCA is because global conditions have changed. This is a lie. The volte face by the BCA is symptomatic of the despicable nature of corporate Australia; they will do anything to keep the Liberal and National parties in power, so that the largesse from the taxpayer keeps flowing to their bottom line. Now that the Glasgow climate summit is so close and Morrison, or his gofer, has to front up in Glasgow with at least an adherence to the net zero by 2050 baseline, the BCA have realised their pet politicians are in danger of having significant opprobrium heaped upon them, and of having climate tariffs imposed on Australia’s imports to Europe and elsewhere, thereby risking being voted out of office. Never mind the bigotry, the mismanagement and the monumental corruption. One could be forgiven for believing the BCA are simply a front organisation for the Liberal and National parties. Why? Because the Coalition parties give those in big business exactly what they want; the status quo.