Green groups rolling in cash

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JOHN MCCARTHY

EN­VI­RON­MENT and ac­tivist groups have be­come a fi­nan­cial jug­ger­naut with the top cam­paign­ers gen­er­at­ing a com­bined in­come of $ 100 million a year.

The power of the green groups is now con­sid­ered so strong that even the min­ing in­dus­try claims it is be­ing out­gunned.

The sig­nif­i­cant part of the funds, which are mostly tax­payer sub­sidised, is spent on cam­paign­ing and a ma­jor tar­get is the min­ing in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly Adani.

It’s a no- holds- barred war be­tween the two sides, but the ac­tivists groups have shown them­selves to be far more ag­ile and more ca­pa­ble of rais­ing funds and in­flu­enc­ing pub­lic opin­ion through so­cial me­dia.

Queens­land Re­sources Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Ian Mac­far­lane said the ac­tivists were able to sway pub­lic opin­ion and force politi­cians to take pop­ulist de­ci­sions in ar­eas like re­new­able en­ergy.

He said un­til re­cently the pub­lic was gen­er­ally not aware of the neg­a­tive im­pli­ca­tions of re­new­ables.

“So it does have a very sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the way peo­ple think and that re­flects back on the way politi­cians think and the pres­sure politi­cians come un­der to of­ten take what could be broadly called pop­ulist de­ci­sions that don’t have a ba­sis in fact or sci­ence and de­ci­sions that im­pact on peo­ples’ lives and jobs or the price they pay for en­ergy,’’ he said.

“For in­stance, the be­lief that we can live with­out coal. They have suc­cess­fully driven a dis­con­nect be­tween re­al­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity.

“Not one of the peo­ple say they would go with­out a car and there’s a tonne of coal in ev­ery car.

“They have suc­cess­fully through chant­ing the mes­sage day in day out changed peo­ple’s be­liefs and at­ti­tudes.’’

He said the in­dus­try had not spent any­thing like the green groups and that had been a de­ci­sion on eco­nomic grounds that had over­looked the power and in­flu­ence that was now im­pact­ing eco­nom­i­cally on re­source com­pa­nies.

Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Kelly O’Shanassy coun­tered by say­ing it was only the pow­er­ful vested in­ter­ests that were prop­ping up the “dy­ing’’ coal in­dus­try.

“It’s of no sur­prise that peo­ple are will­ing to chip in to en­sure the Great Bar­rier Reef has a fu­ture and we shift quickly to jobs in re­new­ables. Our cam­paigns for clean en­ergy are pow­ered by peo­ple, un­like the cor­po­rate in­flu­ence of the pol­lut­ing fossil fuel gi­ants,’’ she said.

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