Saturday, 7 May 2016

Does the environment matter

An open letter to Greg Hunt,
Australian Minister for the Environment.

7 May 2016

Dear Greg

This is your cousin David Hunt.  Perhaps you remember me from occasional family gatherings, where I took periodic umbrage with the policies and politics of your father Alan Hunt, who was variously Victorian State Leader of the Upper House, Leader of the opposition in the Upper House, Minister for Education and Minister for Local Government.

One of the things that I respected about your father was that he stuck to his principles. It was through sticking to those principles that Alan introduced the Green Zone legislation in Victoria. An act that has had a lasting impact on Melbourne, providing generations with access to green spaces. Spaces that would have been bulldozed and developed for short term gain and profit, leaving local communities with no recreation space and city kids with no access to greenery. Please think on that the next time you take your kids out into parks and reserves in Mornington.

Although I don’t live in Australia at the moment my children do. So I watch Australian news with interest. When the Abbott government was elected I had high hopes that you had learnt from your father and that you would be a good Minister in a portfolio you cared about and had held for a long time. Your university thesis did after all propose a carbon tax, indicating that before you entered parliament you cared about the environment and recognised that something had to be done to address carbon emissions and migrate to other energy sources.

Sadly, it seems that the Liberal Party has long ago been bought by the coal and petroleum industries, amongst others. (Comment deleted here - see below) Year after year temperature records are broken and 98% of scientists in the field say that carbon is a significant causal factor. Of the remaining 2% of scientists in the field many are funded by the carbon energy sector, do you see any conflict of interest there?

So, as Environment Minister what are your headline achievements? New coal mines, new ports cutting through the Great Barrier Reef to move said coal, Coal Seam Gas extraction, reductions in renewable energy targets and the gutting of Australia’s capacity to develop renewable energy sources. All while the rest of the world is moving away from carbon fuels. Heck even Saudi Arabia is investing in, building and operating domestic solar and wind energy infrastructure. Not to mention that you have approved projects that will cause environmental damage to Australia’s food bowl and water table. If you haven’t done so I suggest that you read up on the environmental record of Adani. Safeguards are all well and good, but should we be digging up Australian farmland to provide coal for a world that is rapidly moving to other energy sources? Should we be fracturing rock to extract gas, knowing that by doing so the land becomes earthquake prone and that inevitably chemicals used in the process will end up in the water courses? Once poisoned……….

Whether you believe in carbon caused climate change or not, the rest of the world is beginning to act. If you don’t Australia will be left behind and what sort of legacy will that be for Australian innovation and future generations of business leaders, not to mention the Australian public?
I notice that your Government is pretty keen to spend money on defence and the military. I am intrigued that nobody seems to have worked out that in any future war Australia’s “big infrastructure” energy network would be a prime and impossible to defend target. In that light I am completely staggered that your Government opposes solar and other renewable energy sources. Homes, factories and Government buildings could be independent of the grid, as part of a distributed power network, making it impossible for acts of terror, sabotage or military strike to disable power supply.
Australia has so many advantages and we should rightfully be world leaders in the adoption of new technologies in solar, tidal and wind power generation. Much of the rest of the world is headed there, yet where is Australia? Yes, your Ministerial website has positive stories, but where is the balance of funding going, and what is the tenor of your decisions?

You have been a federal politician for 15 years and actively involved in politics throughout your adult life. Please Greg, I ask you to reflect on this and ask yourself this one question – What will your legacy be?  Will it be positive like your father? Or will it be one of complicity in causing environmental damage, whilst ignoring a growing catastrophe, and tying Australia to industries the world is moving away from?

Kind Regards

David Hunt

"Your most recent public comments about carbon pollution are mind boggling. That you, as an educated man could say such things when the scientific consensus is in is nothing short of staggering."
I made the above statement in response to some reportage in the press. Greg assures me that he did not make any such statements, that such statements do not reflect his personal beliefs and was not even at the event where those words were attributed to him. As a result of this post I had a long discussion with Greg. I have to say that I could never be a politician and I do not envy him his task, which would be difficult in even the most progressive of Governments. 


  1. Replies
    1. This post was a while in gestation, I needed the right time, place and head space to write this.

  2. I taught Greg Geography, not well enough it seems. I know the actions of the man do not match up with his own ideals and beliefs regarding the environment. It must been hard under Abbott, but he has lost any semblance of sympathy now. A very disappointing environment minister.

    1. Sadly so. But I believe there comes a time when people of principle have to do the right thing in their job, not the expedient thing. It is very easy for me to say that as I have never been in any position remotely like his.

  3. Alan Hunt was certainly a man of integrity and principle. That is exactly why he sat on the back bench for so long in the sixties after standing up for his electorate against his Premier Henry Bolte. His wonderful legacy is certainly Melbourne's Green Wedges. Greg's part in his joint Thesis "A Tax to Make the Polluter Pay" with Rufus Black certainly made a case for the polluter to pay, but Hon. Greg Hunt doesn't see it that way apparently. I have recently wondered whether his visit and aerial inspection of the Great Barrier Reef only occurred because a world renowned naturalist was about to blow the whistle on the threats confronting this "World Natural Wonder". Remember the Hon. Greg Hunt told UNESCO the reef was all good and not under threat. I'd have more respect for this environmental vandal Minister Greg Hunt if he stood up to Party and "told it how it is" and if that meant doing what his Dad did and going to the back bench then greater strength to the man. However, I don't think this career politician has that backbone. Shame on you Minister Greg Hunt. Thank you David Hunt for your opinion piece. It is certainly something that many agree with.