May 08

Hello Dear Supporters

We are now back on deck after an extended leave following the momentous conclusion to last year’s Federal Election. A very belated Thank You for your support in the months leading up to the Election as well as a belated Happy New Year wish for 2008.

Late February our Core Committee decided that our work was not finished as the new Labor Federal Government’s Climate Change policies, though marginally superior to the Coalition’s, still left a lot to be desired. This concern was borne out by the lukewarm response of the new Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, to the initial findings of Ross Garnaut, who Labor themselves appointed last year to report back to them on what targets Australia needed to set to avoid dangerous climate change.

What is encouraging is the reborn Coalition, with Brendan Nelson at the helm. It has quickly shed many of the policies of the previous administration and their new Shadow Environment Minister is already taking the fight up to the new Federal Government. Add to this the fact that the Coalition’s previous Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who worked heroically in this portfolio despite having both hands tied behind his back by a Prime Minister who never really got to grips with the implications of climate change, is waiting in the wings. So we see this important issue remaining on the front burner and if Mr Rudd’s administration fails to deliver we believe the Coalition will be letting them know in no uncertain manner.

So the scene is set. We sincerely hope that you will remain onboard with RGCCAG on what should be an interesting and at times bumpy journey to save the planet.

Federal Government Subsidises Fossil Fuel Industries

Did you know that last year the state and federal governments handed out $9 billion of our money to subsidise the use of fossil fuels, even though we know burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas are causing dangerous climate change.

Billions of dollars went to wealthy multi-national companies, which helped to increase their profits. In comparison, for every $28 spent on subsidising fossil fuels, only $1 was spent on renewable energy.

This has been happening for the past ten years. The details have been buried under technical jargon, hidden in different policies. The full picture only came to light after Greenpeace commissioned a formal independent report last year.

Greenpeace is launching a campaign to ask our new government to stop funding just one of these subsidies to show they’re prepared to break with the past and start taking real action on climate change. Of the $9 billion given to subsidise fossil fuels, $308 million is given to coal companies as a rebate on their diesel fuel.

This means that unlike ordinary Australians, wealthy companies, like BHP Billiton, which posted a $13.7 Billion profit last year, don’t have to pay tax on the fuel they use. That one little tax-break is more than the total amount given to the renewable energy sector.

Greenpeace, we understand, is currently raising funds in order to undertake a nation-wide campaign to ask Treasurer Wayne Swan to announce he’ll stop funding the fuel rebate to coal companies and start funding the fledgling renewable energy sector.

If you are outraged by this you may wish to make a donation to help Greenpeace take this to a national level and get the message to the Treasurer: It’s time to stop wasting our money on wealthy climate polluters and start giving Australian renewable energy a fair go.

So why has this scandal been allowed to occur? Well, for over a decade the coal industry has wielded such political power it has been able to influence government decision-making. Greenpeace is Australia’s only environmental charity entirely independent of corporate or government funding and they are prepared to tackle the coal industry head-on.

Governments must responsibly phase out coal, not subsidise it, if we are to cut our greenhouse gas emissions and avoid dangerous climate change. To do it we have to give renewable energy a fair go.

Further information can be obtained and an online petition be signed at

Another important matter to consider is that the Federal Government’s Future Fund is investing in fossil fuel companies and not new renewable technologies. Perhaps it should be known as the No Future Fund?

The NSW Electricity Sell Off

The NSW government plans to privatise NSW’s electricity industry are a disaster for greenhouse gas reduction targets. A privately owned electricity industry will be driven by the need to sell more energy to make greater profits, not encourage people to use less.
The government is also planning for a new baseload power station and seems to be ignoring all suggestions that this could come from other sources than coal.

If you do nothing else today, send an email to our local state member for Ryde, John Watkins, who is also Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport asking him to oppose the sell off and advocate for addressing growing demand through alternative energy sources and efficiency measures.


For more information on energy and climate change impacts of privatisation – visit The Greens John Kaye’s website.