News from the front desk: Issue 381 – Our national treasure, oops treasurer ScoMo, has scotched the idea of a new coal-fired power station.
Onya ScoMo. You’re reading and listening. Good. You want to stay in power. And what a quick learner you are. It was only a year ago that you were tossing a lump of coal around like you were an urchin happy to receive the best Christmas gift you could hope for if you were living in Dickensian England. Like you could eat it or something. Nice to see you have the best political gene you can have – the ability to read the tea leaves.
Okay, you relied on the financials to reject the coal station, as befits a man in your position, but that’s cool. A fine and valid reason. Burning up the earth was never a viable financial option. Sooner or later there is hell to pay. And it’s why we are happy indeed to keep pushing the business logic of sustainability. Saving resources and the blue economy is cheaper in the end, especially if your timeline is longer than next week.
The coal issue pushed by a new group calling itself the Monash Forum after Sir John Monash – to the chagrin of the Monash family – ahead of a mooted (and disputed) push to topple PM Malcolm Turnbull because he’s about to lose the 30th consecutive Newspoll.
But even if Malcolm is pushed over the edge by the coal lovers, again, there is not much life left in that industry. Big business – at least some – will see to that.
For example, the news on Thursday that the Big Australian, BHP, will make good its promise to leave the World Coal Association. It makes sense. There’s not just a business case for this on financial grounds because coal is getting more expensive than renewable energy but there is also a business case driven by public opinion, which in the end is the same thing. Businesses and pollies both depend on the good graces and fine thoughts of We the People. (And do we need to remind again, that there are more of us than them?)
For now BHP will remain as a member of the US Chamber of Commerce, an outfit the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, says played a key role in the US Feds’ signing out of the Paris Agreement.
Time is not on our side, but time would see BHP move out of that nasty piece of collaborative destruction as well; it’s a near certainty. And it’s still closely examining its Minerals Council of Australia membership…
Look at the trajectory. Once Public Opinion starts to get a taste that it has some genuine influence and can tip things its way, it starts to look around to see what’s next.
In Sydney it did this to the idea that you can knock over a couple of stadiums like they were Lego toys and rebuild them.
Unsustainable. The premier Gladys Berejiklian changes her mind. Smart woman (one more stadium backflip to go, though).
Public opinion is also looking hard at big infrastructure, such as WestConnex, the freeway barrelling through the fabric of the inner city of Sydney, arguably its best and most creative. It already dispatched the East West Link in Melbourne.
It’s glaring at consultancies and investment houses with that born-to-rule attitude, and reckoning their regal foundations are looking a tad hollowed.
Would WestConnex be approved today? It’s questionable.
Ministers after all need their jobs and what good are they to anyone if they get tossed out after just one term or a bottle of Hermitage?
In Australia the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia two years ago gave a rating to WestConnex. Next year, WestConnex might not be so lucky.
ISCA has noticed the wind has changed on big infrastructure politics and inserted a new screen in its V2 of the rating tool. Projects need not only produce lower emissions, use fewer toxic materials and employ good work practices, but they now must also be able to meet the outcomes contained within that beautiful set of bon mots (as former PM Paul Keating might say) “social licence to operate”.
So the Infrastructure Sustainability Rating tool, IS version 2.0, due for release on 1 July will do all the previous work but will now include assessment of “appropriate approaches for social acceptance by key stakeholders, be they Indigenous partners, local communities, commuters or consumers,” a recent media statement from ISCA says.