Australia: Government Climate Censors Open Can of Worms – OpEd


By Gavin Atkins

The ShadowLands is no stranger to struggling with bureaucracy on the subject of climate change.

Back in 2008 we battled to have a submission published as part of their consultation process for the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. All of the sordid details of our correspondence are here.

What proved to be the masterstroke was cc’ing the last email to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Department officers suddenly decided it was a better idea just to accept the damn thing, which can still be found here.

This, in my experience, is all you need to know about public servants: they are motivated by fear. When they thought that publishing my submission could rebound on them, they used every excuse they could possibly think of to block its publication. Once they realised they might be in trouble with the Ombudsman if they didn’t publish it, they couldn’t reverse their decision quickly enough. Most public servants don’t really care about the politics, they just want a quiet life, a regular pay-cheque and the occasional long weekend.

I bring all of this up only by way of mentioning the latest controversy whereby a Government committee has rejected 4,500 submissions against the carbon tax.

Farcically, they have done so on the grounds that some of these were form letters – while publishing numerous form letters that are in favour of the carbon tax.

Just as in my case three years ago, the public servants in charge of publishing the submissions could apparently only see potential bad consequences – and have foolishly overlooked the fact that they would make a joke of the whole consultation process and enrage 4,500 people while they were at it.

So here’s my prediction: in Canberra on Monday, there are going to be some very nervous public servants who will realise they did the wrong thing. They will not like the criticism they will inevitably begin seeing in their media monitoring from outraged letters to editors.

I am tipping that all of the submissions are likely to appear just about as soon as they can upload them all…

Asian Correspondent

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