Govt. handouts to miners insult to the environment

p2142-Jimmy-CockingLETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – The NT Government must come clean about how its spending priorities will impact on the Territory’s environment as it announced over $850,000 in grants available to mining companies for exploration on the same day that a New Matilda article has revealed that mining companies have claimed tax breaks over $145 million for lobbying activities.

 

The news comes as environment organisations across the Territory suffer complete operational funding cuts by governments, including the Environment Centre NT ($235,000) and the Arid Lands Environment Centre ($180,000).

 

The Senate Committee on Environment and Communications launched an inquiry into the tax deductibility status of environmental organisations in May this year. In the course of the inquiry it has been revealed that the mining industry – itself a supporter of the inquiry – has claimed tax deductibility of its own lobbying efforts.

 

As Environment Centre Acting Director Anna Boustead puts it: “What this reveals is that governments are not concerned about taxpayers’ money going toward mining industry lobbyists who stand to gain rich profits from putting the environment at risk but would rather focus their efforts on a group of environmental charities working towards making a better world.”

 

Places such as Kakadu, Watarrka (Kings Canyon), Litchfield and West MacDonnell Ranges would not be national parks were it not for the efforts of those lobbying for the protection of the environment.

 

Jimmy Cocking
Director, Arid Lands Environment Centre (pictured)

 

 

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19 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Jimmy Cocking
    Posted June 22, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    @ Another Observer: Again, not prepared to take responsibility for who you are.
    ALEC is thankful for the support provided by the previous NT government and the Ian Potter Foundation to establish the community garden and to ensure its sustainability.
    ALEC is also thankful to the Alice Springs Town Council for the provision of land to do so. It is offensive to call the community garden a vanity project. It is run by a volunteer management committee supported by ALEC and is available for all people to become a part of – not just residents of Eastside as being asserted by Another Observer.
    The Community Garden is a fantastic community asset that has been supported by the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) from the outset.
    The location was a result of available Council land and ALEC has supported a community garden being established at Centralian Middle School, has provided advice to an interested person who wants to set one up in Larapinta and ALEC is also working both in Santa Teresa and Utopia on food garden projects.
    All grants that ALEC has ever applied for have been competitive. We have had to apply for grants, there is no trough or tap as being suggested by the stone throwers below.
    ALEC is an organisation that has been active in Alice Springs for 35 years and plans on continuing to play a role in the sustainable development of our region for many years to come.
    We’re decades out of the schoolyard now gents, so if you really want to make a difference … email me director@alec.org.au or call me on 8952 2497 and let’s talk about it like adults.

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  2. Another Observer
    Posted June 22, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I think the followers of this conversation, and there are a few, owe a debt of gratitude to Mr Shimei. He has exposed a truth that we should be aware of.
    A couple of years ago when Joe Hockey gave his “age of entitlement” speech, net taxpayers such as myself assumed that he was talking about the middle class welfare that is crippling government. I had overlooked the sense of entitlement that many in taxpayer funded activism seem to believe is their “right”.
    I took the time to check the websites of both ALEC and the community garden. I would urge all Net taxpayers to do the same … certainly the annual report for ALEC made for interesting reading.
    The community garden however deserves special mention. Unlike the development of community gardens in inner city Melbourne or Sydney, this vanity project is a drain on the taxpayer, and I would have more respect for the touting of the success of the project if it was located on one of the town camps or regional communities.
    But no … Bourke Street on Eastside. A place for those acceptable and of the right minded set to grow their kale or heritage veggies … all the while spitting bile at “Tories” or those that are actually funding the venture.
    Further, Jimmeee’s comments about supporters – can I just highlight: commonwealth = net taxpayers, power and water = net taxpayers, NTG = net taxpayers, ALEC = taxpayers, ASTC = ratepayers and Alice springs water smart = taxpayer funding.
    So rather than trying to impress the readership of the Alice Springs News Online with his whining about funding being cut, maybe a simple thank you would be in order.

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  3. Jimmy Cocking
    Posted June 21, 2015 at 9:30 am

    @ Steve: It is the Pope who has jumped on the bandwagon of the environmental groups not the other way around.
    The Pope is ensuring that Catholics are at the table when it comes to negotiating for action on climate change. It is a good thing for the world that the Pope has come out on this globally important issue.
    Re: Population, this is a thorny issue that is passed over by most. Population is not the single cause of the 6th extinction that we are entering, the consumption habits of the western world also play a significant role.
    The key to this issue is support for women’s reproductive choice, education of men and women and access to medical support to faciliate this choice. Beyond that, war, disease and climate change will play a role in stabilising human numbers on the planet in the long run. I suspect that the Church will come to its senses on women’s health and equality in the not-so distant future so as to position itself on the right side of history.
    Steve, I agree that everyone needs to participate in protecting the environment and it not just be left up to the green groups to do it. I wholeheartedly agree and hope that we may someday work together to increase participation in landcare volunteering and climate adaptation work locally – that is something I’d be really keen to talk to you about.
    Mr Shimei: The use of the term Abbott Derangement Syndome indicates that you are indeed of the ilk that I suspected all along. This symptoms of this problem are widespread among most of the voting public who feel that the politcal system is failing us.
    Given Giles and co are not willing to establish an independent corruption commission indicates that there is indeed strong reasons to. Particularly when we look at port development and the Canberra and Gina Rinehart driven Northern Development Agenda. We need independent oversight more than ever.
    Re snouts in troughs and all that: There is nothing wrong with us having a little whinge and reminding people of what is lost when the Tories come to power.
    Environment, arts and social safety nets are stripped right back. We’re going to keep making noise about what is being lost, including the revenue stream from resource rent and pricing pollution which would be the real way to ensure that the use of the environment is tempered by need rather than greed.
    We saw the might of the mining companies in bringing down and destablising the previous Federal government when they were being brought to heel for not reporting the profits being made on their extraction and sale of our national wealth.
    I would say that the sense of entitlement by mining companies and their associated lobbyists is far more than that of the environmental lobby.
    Anyway – thanks Kurisu for your acknowledgement that venture capital and philanthropy should be supporting the likes of ALEC. I agree.
    If you have any contacts or potentially interested people we’d be very keen to chat to them.

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  4. Kurisu Shimei
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    @Jimmy (can I call you Jimmy) and Cogs et al.
    Your justifications of your position to date have been at best facile, but mostly risible.
    Yet again you fail to justify the basic premise I originally made, that is, green groups throw a tantrum when their snouts are removed from the taxpayer trough, when they feel they and only they have the entitlement to the taxpayers’ hard earned coin.
    To continue, you decry grants to O and G industries and others, yet fail to note that a company has to apply for this and jump through red and green hoops to even qualify. Green groups with their inflated sense of entitlement.
    To be frank 850K doesn’t even cover the paperwork side yet these companies may have a ROI that means investment, infrastructure and employment.
    Yet you demand taxpayer money that does nothing except make yourselves and similar thinkers feel good. You feeling good does not give the unemployed a chance at a better life through employment.
    @ Richard Bentley – ALEC can do as it wishes, the taxpayer should not be obligated to fund their activism. If their ideals are so noble and worthy then can should be able to obtain venture capital or private funding in a heartbeat.
    Further to this you decry the possible removal of subsidies to the ‘renewables’ industry. Of course nothing says saving the planet by having the taxpayer prop up a valueless industry by paying exponentially higher prices for their electricity.
    On cue the Abbott Derangement Syndrome rears its head.

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  5. Steve Brown
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Jimmy, I see your on the Pope’s bandwagon! No surprise in that I guess, as like yourself the Pope somehow manages to paint himself outside the picture, not responsible for anything, postulating a somewhat angelic overview, making judgmental comment on the actions and responsibilities of others while failing to recognize his own integral part in the equation.
    While we are all equally responsible for the state of the world’s environment I think it worth noting that given the underlying issue creating such stress on our environment is “overpopulation”!
    Given that many of the world’s poorest peoples blindly follow the Pope’s message on birth control, I suspect that the Pope may just a little more responsible than anyone else!
    Perhaps he should clean up his own house first.
    Maybe you should lobby him, Jimmy.
    @ Richard: You like somebody else to be responsible for you, hey? Hand over responsibility, sit back with your feet up! You should give Jimmy a call and see if he’ll do your washing as well!
    Now there’s a life! LOL.

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  6. Richard Bentley
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 9:50 am

    @ Kurisu and @ Steve: It is unfortunate that you fail too see any benefit in an organisation like ALEC working to understand and protect the environment. I doubt any of us have the absolute answers regarding environmental issues but we can all see the results when it goes wrong.
    I observe the Prime Minister working to derail the renewable energy industry, taking us in a different direction to most of the world. I am glad we have an ALEC and many other environmental groups to balance his “toxic tax” tripe. I am also glad that his performance will be assessed at an election in a year’s time.
    In the meantime keep up the good work Jimmy.

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  7. Jade Palmer
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 7:03 am

    I still wonder when we will all stop and demand that governments cease this sort of activity. I’m just as guilty for doing nothing but each day my heart breaks a little more with what I see and read.
    Why are we allowing this, after all this is our hard earned money being spent on corporate greed – these companies don’t seem to be doing too bad when you look at the stock exchange!
    When will we learn that we can’t eat money after all the land has been destroyed.

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  8. Cogs
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Problem with your eyes, Kurisu Shimei? “Not funded by the taxpayer”? The “$850,000 in grants” came from where exactly?
    And given to “speculators” to conduct activities that are deliberately exempted from even the most obviously important of environmental issues, the protection of our water supplies!

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  9. Cogs
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Well said Jimmy, though I suspect you’re the sort off bloke that would still fight on without the verbal support.
    As for Hermann Weber and Steve Brown, the motives for saying what they did are pretty obvious.
    “By their works you will know them.”

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  10. Jimmy Cocking
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    @ Kurisu: Nice try on the distorted logic and demonstration of your right wing extremism.
    There is an undeniable moral imperative to act on the issues of global importance including poverty and climate change.
    It is not extremist to work towards the collective good rather than succumb to the whims of middle aged white men who think they know better than the rest of us.
    Consumerism and narcissism are individualist pursuits that are driving both the economy and politics in this country. It is not healthy at all.
    We are at much more risk of slipping into fascism under the current alignment of Lib/Lab voting on surveillance, refugee policy, environmental policy, citizenship and a general cleptocratic approach to governance than under the greens ever.
    Not to mention these new ways of shutting down debate and avoiding answering questions related to bribery, electoral donations and other allegations.
    The taxpayer has rights to know when deviations from expectation occur and giving money to multinational miners, opening up vast swathes of intact natural landscapes and using cheap immigrant labour to do so are examples of this.
    The lurch to the right in this country has shifted the goal posts so far that even centralist policies are being attacked as being extreme left.
    Australia was once considered an egalitarian country – however, the rabid right are taking us to a place that current and future generations will live to regret and future parliaments will have to apologise for.
    Environmental groups, the arts and social welfare are all suffering at the moment. These sectors are viewed as not having value by the extreme right due to the “lack of job creation” and economic return. The social Darwinist language of “lifters” and “leaners” is creating division and derision, which will have economic consequences.
    Rather than attacking environmental groups for daring to do their job, why don’t you focus on the failings of the governments to get the right policy mix for a sustainable economy in this region? $850 000 injected into the local economy in the right places could go a long way, rather than simply propping up the balance sheets of multinational miners.

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  11. Kurisu Shimei
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Mr Cocking (may I call you Jimmy), in the first line of your latest post you assert that ALEC works for the public benefit, well cudos to you. So how about you ask the public to voluntarily fund your organisation, instead of using money taken from them by government.
    Further to this Mr Cocking, you say: “Activism is my rent for living on the planet.”
    That is fine and dandy except the money you are using to pay the rent has been taken from others. Pay the rent with your own damn money, not the taxpayers’.
    I also note in your latest missive you don’t like “individualist ideologies”. In a nutshell that equates to you only liking people who are in lockstep with your thinking.
    That is pretty much how totalitarian states operate and given the fantasy world the extreme Greens operate in, I’m sure the pogroms would be enviro-friendly.

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  12. Posted June 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    @ morriepurvis and others

    I personally, and organisationally ALEC works for the public benefit not private benefit and therefore I reject your assertion of rent seeking. ALEC is adapting and adjusting to this new period by diversifying our funding streams and relying increasingly on regular donors.
    All the muck throwers here would be pleased to see ALEC fold, but I can tell you that we will not be silent on the issues that matter. If I didn’t have people regularly thank me for the work we do here in raising issues and highlighting inconsistencies with government policy and its failing attempts for a “balanced environment”, then I would stop speaking out.
    Giving handouts to mining companies is wrong. What is needed is a holistic approach to economic development, looking at the needs of the community, energy and capital flows throughout and how we can maximise gains from investments while ensuring there is plenty for future generations.
    And to quote Alice Walker
    “Activism is my rent for living on the planet.”
    and Edmund Burke
    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
    I’m not sitting around to see what sort of world eventuates from the individualist ideologies spouted below. We live in an interconnected world and isolationism in regards to fossil fuels and climate change can no longer be tolerated.
    @ Steve Brown – I agree that we all need to look after the environment, I look forward to the stewardship mentality permeating through all business and government processes – but until then, I’m afraid you’re stuck with us – people who collectively care and are open-eyed enough to know that without voices from outside of the establishment – change will only be minimal. I’m with the Pope on this one – urgent and global scale change is necessary.
    The NT Government doesn’t even have a climate change policy. I rest my case.

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  13. Morriepurvis
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 10:59 am

    @Jimmy Cocking

    rent-seeking
    (rent-see-king)

    … the act or process of exploiting the political process or manipulating the economic environment to increase one’s revenue or profits …

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  14. Kurisu Shimei
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Mr Cocking: Screeching “neoliberal” is an asinine piece of faux distraction akin to “look, shiny paper”.
    In its simplest form you are complaining because your snouts have been removed from the taxpayer trough. Perhaps you would be better served using this liberating opportunity to source your own funding instead of expecting the entitlement to take from the long suffering taxpayers.

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  15. Robinoz
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Unfortunately, environmental groups don’t generate revenue or create real jobs. Mining on the other hand, generates revenue, provides jobs and the money multiplier works to flow through the community.

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  16. Posted June 18, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    @Kurisu Shimei
    The basis of neoliberalism is essentially a movement of public assets into private hands, commodifed, monetised and sold.

    The Arid Lands Environment Centre is not purely an advocacy organisation. Sure, you hear about ALEC when it is speaking up in the media about important environmental issues like uranium mining, gas fracking, water allocation, biodiversity conservation and many other issues affecting the land and people of arid Australia.

    However, what you don’t necessarily hear about in Kobe is the non-defensive work that ALEC does such as the community garden, policy submissions, participating in many government appointed committees, water and energy efficiency work, promoting renewable energy, facilitating volunteers to support biodiversity conservation, supporting collaborative projects across the vast interior and lots more.

    The review of the Register for Environmental Organisations is widely viewed as a witchhunt against a sector that is standing up to the greed and selfishness being promulgated by the political elite.

    Companies exist to make profits for shareholders. Environmental groups stand up and work for the public good.

    ALEC has always had to compete for funding through grant rounds. Mining and the oil/gas sector don’t have to compete for access to government funds and resources. The door is open and if you donate to the parties, you can take from the Australian people what you want – whether that be groundwater, minerals, arable land, forests, clean air etc.

    Last point, these funds are for exploration, there is no certainty of payback with these funds. The tax payer is not getting a net return so this is just cash being given to prop up exploration while the industry sags under its own lack of investment.

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  17. Hermann Weber
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Totally agree with Mr Shimei. I often wonder were these organisation think the money for their funding comes from. The Government does not have some magical trees you only have to shake and they fill the coffers. (I think 🙂 )

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  18. Steve Brown
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    Really Jimmy! Everybody is an environmentalist, Everybody can lobby on behalf of the environment! So why do we need professional environmental groups? All to often they give caring about the environment a bad name, causing middle Australia to shy away from any association.
    Loopy lefties playing politics with our environment, our future and our Jobs! Worming their way into our bureaucracies ratcheting up costs with ridiculous stifling regulation. No thanks Jimmy! The Environment belongs to us all and its up to all of us to look after it.
    Those groups claiming to be environmentalist have no more expertise, no more care and no more right, than any one else. Governments are absolutely correct to de-fund them.They are a unnecessary non contributing burden to the Tax payer. A cost which after flowing through the system is eventually covered by extracting more from our environment.

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  19. Kurisu Shimei
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Mr Cocking has some fundamental flaws in his assertion.
    What he terms “operational funding cuts” is the taxpayer no longer wishing to pay for his activism.
    As for the tax deductibility status it has been shown in the inquiry that a lot of organisations did little to nothing on environmental issues and acted solely as activists or lobbyists.
    Again I reiterate, why should the taxpayer fund your activism?
    Mr Cocking seems blithely unaware that a company reclaiming legitimate business expense is completely legal. Especially when they are not funded by the taxpayer.

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