The Carbon Club

Our first speaker for this year, as we have already said, is likely to attract quite a large audience.  It will be Marian Wilkinson, addressing the issues raised in her recent book The Carbon Club – a devastating critique of the political actors  (fossil fuel industry agents, politicians, governments and others ) denying the scientific evidence of anthropogenic global warming and thwarting  government action on dealing with climate change.  See in the attachment Jim Beatson’s review of the book.

This meeting will be held at the usual time of 7 pm, on Wednesday the 7th of April, in the Paddington Workers Club, or as it is now officially known, The Brisbane Workers Community Centre, at 11/2 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington QLD 4064.

Marian Wilkinson’s new book explains how huge oil and coal interests in the United States and Australia cooperated for over 20 years to prevent successive Australian Governments effective action on climate change. Today these interests hold majority control of the federal Liberal and National parties. How? By influencing in candidate pre-selection contests, funding and organising support for hard right candidates, including social media postings, all supported by Murdoch’s media commentators.

Investigative Journalist, Marian Wilkinson, is a giant of Australian journalism. She won two Walkley Awards for her work as reporter and producer of ABC’s Four Comers.

Wilkinson describes the rise Cory Bernardi. “He got his place in the Senate thanks to his mentor, Nick Minchin…he became a vocal defender of Australia’s climate sceptics. Morgan’s factotum was Ray Evans, still Australia’s most influential campaigner against climate science…”

Impressed by Evans and Morgan’s apparent effectiveness, Bernardi left a position in Prime Minister Howard’s office, moved to the US in 2008 and “met with a whole range of different organisations over there, the activist organisations in the tax space, in the freedom space, in the smaller government space, in leadership development. I kind of became their go-to person in Australia”.

Her meteoric rise started as reporter for community radio 4ZZZ, Brisbane, leading to New York and Washington correspondent for both ABC and Fairfax newspapers. In 2018, she was inducted into the Australia’s Media Hall of Fame.

The Carbon Club started years ago as a UK-funded TV documentary. Then Wilkinson was told by the film company, “Kevin Rudd’s been elected… that’s all dead now, you’ve got big climate action in Australia. Well, of course, you know, 13 years later, we’re still waiting. And when I left Four Comers at the beginning of 2018, a lot of people were pressing me to write a book, and I was equally determined.”

The book works through the obvious villains: Abbott, Murdoch, Morrison, media shock jocks and social media. But Wilkinson introduces equally important but obscure players like Hugh Morgan, the principle owner of Western Mining, and Sen. Cory Bernardi.

“Hugh Morgan,’ Wilkinson writes “is a fascinating character, his real power came through the [dominant] Victorian state branch of the Liberal Party… and that power then emanated out from there [with Morgan] Chairman of its cash cow, the Cormack Foundation, … one of the most important funders of the Liberal party federally and of its Victorian and Western Australian divisions.”

“[Morgan] would later say” deep connections between the Australian and US climate-sceptic movements created the deluge of emails and calls had swung the vote [for Tony Abbott] against Turnbull…This was the first time in Australian political history that a political leader has been deposed by the rank and file of the party.

Institute in Virginia where he learnt about using what he described as “voter databases and online technology to mobilise grassroots campaign…These tools would prove vital in the fight to block Labor’s climate change policy.

Bernardi watched the billionaire fossil fuel barons, the Koch brothers and their billionaire allies, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into countless Political Action Committees and lobbyists. They finally took over the Republican Party, its membership, and through preselection contests, determine Republican candidates in state and federal elections.

On returning to Australia, Bernardi’s influence on Minchin, and later Andrew Robb, made opposition to action on climate change a defining Coalition policy.

Wilkinson equally examines all the compromises and divisions between Labor and the Greens over climate change policy options. She presents a brilliant forensic examination of the dysfunctionality of Australia’s federal political system.

For anyone interested in the backstory of Australian governn1ent processes, Marian Wilkinson’s analysis is a must read (including 101 pages of Chapter Notes).

Jim Beatson
March 2021