The Minerals Council of Australia has a long history undermining action on the climate crisis. Here are some of their key moments over the past 20+ years.
June 3, 1992
The Mabo decision and Native Title
On June 3 1992, the High Court handed down their decision on the long-running “Mabo case”, recognising native title rights for Traditional Owners.
The Australian Mining Industry Council, which was renamed the Minerals Council of Australia in 1995, took out full-page advertisements which stated “AMIC believes Aborigines should be treated the same as all Australians.” This was an attempt to undermine the High Court’s decision and pursue an agenda that stoked public fear in an attempt to safeguard the industry and its profits.
The early years of the “greenhouse mafia”
The Minerals Council worked in a collaboration called the “greenhouse mafia” which included lobbyists from the Business Council and other prominent industry groups opposed to Australian action on climate change.
At the time, the Minerals Council worked in collaboration with lobbyists from other prominent industry groups, such as the Business Council of Australia, in a self-proclaimed “greenhouse mafia”.
According to Clive Hamilton, “Alone among the nations of the developed world, key members of fossil fuel lobby groups have actually been made members of Australia’s official delegation that has negotiated − or more accurately, attempted to derail − international agreements on climate change, notably the Kyoto Protocol.”
In June 2002 Australia joined the US as the only two developed nations refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, with the coal lobby being identified as a major reason for this stance
The Howard Government would never ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
The continued destructive influence of the “greenhouse mafia”
The Minerals Council celebrates its successful campaign against the mining tax. According to the Chairman, the Minerals Council’s campaign led to the axing of the Kevin Rudd’s original proposed Resources Super Profits Tax, and enabled them to negotiate the much weaker Minerals Resource Rent Tax with Julia Gillard (Minerals Council of Australia, 2010 Annual Report). According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Minerals Council’s and mining industry’s multi-million dollar campaign was decisive in Kevin Rudd being deposed as Prime Minister: “How much does it cost to bring down a prime minister? The answer: a tad over $22 million.”
Carbon Price attacks
The Chairman of the Minerals Council laments that they have been unsuccessful in attempts to alter the carbon price, but celebrates their role in shifting public perception to oppose the policy (Minerals Council of Australia, 2011 Annual Report)
Celebrating the repeal of the Carbon Price
The CEO of the Minerals Council claims credit for the repeal of the carbon price and mining tax. He says the repeal of the carbon price was a result of “several years of campaigning by the MCA against the design of the carbon pricing scheme” and “the removal of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) also follows strong opposition to the underlying justification for the new impost.” and “The MCA was at the forefront of the debates over the carbon and mining taxes; and their abolition…will be in no small part due to the council’s determined advocacy on both issues. (Minerals Council of Australia, 2013 Annual Report)
Supporting Abbott’s slash and burn of environmental laws
According to the Chair of the Minerals Council, the group takes credit for the introduction of Tony Abbot’s controversial “one stop shop” environmental approvals reform: “Reducing the “burden of policy and regulatory costs was a major priority for the MCA in 2014. Good progress was made on this front. The carbon tax and the Minerals Resource Rent Tax were repealed and significant progress was made toward the achievement of a One-Stop Shop approach to project approvals.” (Minerals Council of Australia, 2014 Annual Report)
The Minerals Council claims credit for the Federal Opposition’s weakened stance on key climate and resources policies – including the Opposition’s support for a mining tax and its continued support for a huge fossil fuel subsidy, the fuel tax credits scheme (Minerals Council of Australia, 2015 Annual Report)
The Minerals Council claims it influenced Malcolm Turnbull’s climate policy by securing “satisfactory provisions” in the Turnbull Government’s Safeguard Mechanism and “advocated a measured 2030 emissions target and registered the importance of access to international permits to constrain the economic cost of meeting challenging emissions reductions targets.” (Minerals Council of Australia, 2015 Annual Report)
The MCA works to undermine faith in renewable energy, publicising “the high cost of renewable energy generation in domestic energy markets and the cost to consumers and businesses of expensive subsidies” (Minerals Council of Australia, 2015 Annual Report)
The Lump of Coal
The Minerals Council of Australia provides Scott Morrison with the now-infamous lump of coal which he brandished with his LNP colleagues on the floor of Parliament.
Backing new coal fired power stations
The Minerals Council continues to lobby in support of a huge fossil fuel subsidy, the Fuel Tax Credits scheme, In the lead up to Labor’s National Conference (Minerals Council of Australia, 2018 Annual Report)
The Minerals Council claims it has “heavily” influenced the Government’s controversial plan to extend the life of coal fired power stations (Minerals Council of Australia, 2018 Annual Report). The Underwriting New Investment in Generation policy was widely criticised for providing a way for the Government to step in to extend the life of coal-fired power stations.
Undermining international action on climate change
The Minerals Council successfully advocates for loopholes for Australia to meet its emissions targets, calling for the Australian Government to push for Kyoto carryover credits to be granted to Australia under the UNFCCC climate agreement.
Attacking our environmental protection laws
The MCA submission is made under the legislated 10 year review to the
Commonwealth which has a direct regulatory role for relevant projects through
approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
The MCA outlines three major reforms required:
- Eliminate or reduce duplication and ensuring consistency between Commonwealth and state/territory processes
- Reducing timeframes in assessment and approval processes
- That the water trigger and restrictions on nuclear and uranium mining be abolished so as to ensure each source of energy could be considered equally
The government regularly cites Minerals Council reports and repeats the lines of Tania Constable when talking about our environmental protection laws.
A so-called “Climate Action Plan”
In June 2020 the MCA released a four page ‘Climate Action Plan’, a 60-page pamphlet re-announcing support for the Paris Climate Agreement, but failing to attach any dates to emissions reduction. This signals a shift in messaging, if not in policy or commercial strategy – to emphasise rare earths, advanced nuclear energy and a renewed emphasis on carbon capture, utilisation and storage.