Ross Garnaut – the “gold” standard of environmentalism

Ross Garnaut is Australia’s economic champion who’s devising the Carbon Tax to help stop Global Warming.  He, however, has personally made millions from gold mining that has flagrantly polluted Papua New Guinea.  You have to admire the man for his nerves of steel (or is that gold) to still repeatedly get up on his soap box and preach to the nation about environmentalism.

Ross Garnaut is a financial heavy weight and whizz.   The past 2 Australian Prime Ministers, Kevin Rudd and now Julia Gillard, have employed him to design our Emissions Trading Scheme.  A hypothetical scheme that could likely soon be a reality.  This is a bold, sweeping economic policy that will revolutionise tax policy in this country.  The plan goes as follows.  Tax heavily any industry that relies on fossil fuelled energy (that’s pretty much everything then) and then, perhaps, rebate it to the People via lower, personal, income tax.  This taxation will be the incentive required to make businesses invest in Renewables and thus prevent catastrophic, Global Warming due to Carbon Dioxide.  This sounds like an impressive proposition.  However, if you’re going to be a “Champion of the Green movement” shouldn’t you be at least Green?

I wouldn’t go as far as some people believe, that Ross Garnaut is a British sponsored, economic hitman just because he belongs to the Trilateral Commission.  He wouldn’t be “That Man” who purposefully gains influence in economic, policy-making circles then, through a process of restructuring that economy, lays it open for foreign investor takeover?  Surely, the way he personally deregulated and “modernised” the economy of Papua New Guinea in 1975 wasn’t just a ploy to open up the vast mineral resources to the global mining giants?  That would surely be ludicrous and is a major slander on the Australian government’s, leading, climate change economist?  In addition, how would this exploitation of a developing nation be of any personal benefit to him.  In his early career, Garnaut was Prime Minister Hawke’s principal economic adviser from 1983-1985.  This can be demonstrated by a quote from senior, cabinet aid, Ed Visbord: “Hawke never took my advice on a single economic issue unless it coincided with that of Ross Garnaut.”  Hawke, a Labour man, turned against his party’s, socialist principles to deregulate and privatise Australia’s banks.  He floated the currency, removed trade barriers, and liberalised banking regulations.  Most of these are deemed admirable to free-trade promoting economists, but perhaps not so to anti-globalisation ideologists (I discuss more here).

However, disregarding whether you believe in the “free enterprise” model or not, let’s just say that Ross Garnaut is firmly established within the Establishment.  This may seem at odds to his intense desire for a Carbon Tax that would hamper and constrain the business industry.  Well, would it really adversely affect business?  Not really, because the extra costs are just passed onto us the consumer.  The corporations don’t cover the cost themselves, it’s just another huge tax burden for the working and middle classes to cover in an already over-taxed, Western world.

Ross Garnaut is the darling of the Australian, Labour government (Rudd now Gillard).  He is their heavy weight, both as an economics’ professor and as an international businessman, in devising a “suitable” climate change, economic plan.  He’s the Climate Taxman.  He is their man to Carbon Tax the country into economic submission.  Yes, the tax is not a minor, fiscal blip, but will be significantly lifestyle cramping.  This man is the champion of mitigating and fighting air pollution.  Whether you believe in the largely unsubstantiated claim (my movie here) that CO2 leads to catastrophic Global Warming, is largely irrelevant in this situation.  This man is continually on his soap box crying fowl for the damage Man is doing to the environment.  Meanwhile, he is making “super profits” (A$142.5 million for the half year) out of destroying the Papua New Guinean environment by dumping heavy metals into its rivers.  Ross Garnaut is the founding chairman of Lihir Gold (a top 100 ASX company), which owns one of the world’s largest gold mines, in Papua New Guinea.  His mining operation contravenes all Western environmental protection laws.  He doesn’t care.  He could make slightly less profits, but still considerable, and not debased his operation with such devastating dumping.  But he doesn’t.  Does this make him a suitable evangelist and viable preacher to preach to us tax-payer to pay more?

In 1995, Garnaut told the ABC’s Karen Snowdon that the environmental impacts had been “very carefully studied, and the studies have concluded that there won’t be detrimental effects on fish life. It’s highly technical stuff, and I myself have to rely on expert opinion on that. But the expert opinion is reassuring.”  But what Garnaut didn’t tell ABC listeners was that PNG’s environmental standards were far lower than those expected of an Australian mine. This issue was graphically demonstrated soon afterwards at BHP’s Ok Tedi Mining Limited mine (at which Garnaut is also a director).  This mine, with similar standards to Lihir’s, at Fly River was so environmentally damaged that BHP had to go into damage control and sell off their share .  In fact, the Ok Tedi mess is considered the worst environmental disaster in the Southern Hemisphere, where over 20 years, 80,000 tonnes of mine waste has been dumped into the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers, every day.  Ok Tedi affects 50,000 people and 120 villages and will take an estimated half a century to clean up.  At Lihir mine itself, tailings containing cyanide and heavy metals were loaded on barges and dumped on the nearby ocean floor while mine processing waste was being discharged via a pipeline, 1.5 kilometres out to sea.  In June 2000 there was a serious cyanide spill at Garnaut’s mine. (for more, see here, here)

Isn’t it somewhat ironic that the “Green champion” professor was the very same man that played a pivotal role in one of the most polluting, industrial disasters on earth?  Whilst Lihir Gold was polluting the coral reefs and ocean floor around Lihir Island, back in Australia, Garnaut, Kevin Rudd’s climate change guru, was trying to guilt us into huge new pollution-reduction taxes – Carbon Taxes.

“The failure of our generation will haunt humanity ’til the end of time” Ross Garnaut – ABC T.V. 30th Sep 2008


So, there is perhaps an air of hypocrisy around Ross Garnaut’s position as “Champion of the Green movement”?  His hands are covered in muck, and we’re not talking about him pottering around his cabbage patch on a Sunday here.  The muck that he’s knee deep in is phenomenally toxic and, in classic colonial style, polluting jolly foreigner’s island whilst he’s reaping massive rewards.  He deregulated Papua New Guinea in the 70s and, since then, is now profiteering massively from their gold resources.  He really sets the “Gold” standard when it comes to environmentalism.

Evil, exploitative capitalism I can handle, but lashings of hypocrisy, well, that just gets my goat.

ABC report on Ross Garnaut’s environmental head-aches:

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5 Responses to Ross Garnaut – the “gold” standard of environmentalism

  1. ThisHurtsMyHead says:

    I never realised Garnaut was so inviolved in gold mining in New Guinea. If his mine is anywhere near as bad as OK Tedi (and he was a director of that too!!!), then it is a local enviromental diasaster. The runoff from these mines not only poisons the rivers, but the reefs around the river mouths.

    How is it that our illustrious press never see fit to mention this?

  2. Alan Barber says:

    Surely ‘selective reporting’ is at the editor’s behest!!??

  3. Rowan says:

    Apparently Ross Garnaut received his apology from the ABC for a report which was not true. Can you please clear up the truth. Could you please email me, to what level he polluted, if he did or did not.

  4. Jimbo says:

    Greetings Rowan,

    I assume you’re refering to the recent, April’11, Australian newspaper article:
    “ABC boss apologises to Garnaut over attacks” which states “ABC managing director Mark Scott has sent leading economist Ross Garnaut a seven-page letter apologising for attacks made on him in two 7.30 Report programs last September.”

    However, the ABC, Karen Snowdon report I cited was all the way back in 1995 and was publicly available until a few months back. In Sept’10, the ABC did their “7.30 Report”, followup expose, which again suggested Ross Garnaut’s mining record was a tad “dirty”. This was retracted after Ross Garnaut complained and, in addition, my video link of the ABC report 15 years ago, which pretty comprehensively highlighted damaging evidence about Lihir, was removed at the same time.

    Ross has some influential friends – his far from illustrious environmental record is being cleared for him. Nice work.

  5. RobF says:

    What about “Australian of the Year”, Climate Commissioner, and household name Tim Flannery?

    From Herald Sun newspaper.

    We should switch to “green” power instead, said Flannery, who recommended geothermal – pumping water on to hot rocks deep underground to create steam.

    “There are hot rocks in South Australia that potentially have enough embedded energy in them to run Australia’s economy for the best part of a century,” he said.

    “The technology to extract that energy and turn it into electricity is relatively straightforward.”

    Flannery repeatedly promoted this “straightforward” technology, and in 2009, the Rudd government awarded $90 million to Geodynamics to build a geothermal power plant in the Cooper Basin, the very area Flannery recommended. Coincidentally, Flannery has for years been a Geodynamics shareholder, a vested interest he sometimes declares.

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