The G7 conference has become an excuse for politicians to engage in an arms race of climate policies designed to torture Australian citizens.
Adam Bandt was let out of his cage to sit in on the ABC’s Insiders where he wasted no time confirming that he would gleefully invite calls for the European Union to introduce a carbon tariff on Australia. Even when pressed by host David Speers, Bandt continued to fantasise about how wonderful it would be for an unelected foreign bureaucracy to rip money out of the Australian market.
It soon became clear that Bandt’s desire to punish Australia was actually an invitation for foreign powers to interfere in Australia’s energy market, sabotaging successful energy solutions while artificially propping up renewables.
The world is more than happy to oblige Bandt – not in the name of ‘environmentalism’, but because most renewables companies and their raw materials are foreign-owned, predominately by China. These nations don’t want Australia as the powerhouse of the Pacific, they’d much rather us be a peasant colony of Asia wholly dependent on Xi Jinping’s graces.
I’m saying that the renewable energy industry in Australia and the industries that could provide an export potential in a zero-carbon world, like green hydrogen, need some support. And if Australia’s not gonna do it, then it is not fair for the rest of the world that is taking action on climate that will ultimately protect Australia to put their – to put uh – companies that are doing the right thing at a disadvantage because Australia is bankrolling coal and gas.
Ignoring the awkward fact that a ‘zero-carbon’ world wouldn’t be particularly green, Bandt has accidentally belled the cat. Renewables survive under the economic protection of governments and bureaucrats who beat down their competition like blokes who pull up outside your house in dark shades carrying baseball bats. Once the market has been destroyed and billions of dollars of grants passed around, it is possible to preach to the public about the ‘success’ of renewables.
If this isn’t an act of foreign interference, I don’t know what is.
Bandt’s energy aspirations make about as much sense as his geopolitics. It is difficult to tell what is more troubling – his incoherency or naivety – as he criticises former governments for empowering China by selling off Australian farmland while remaining genuinely unaware that his energy policy leaves China as emperor of global energy. By the end of the interview, Bandt gave the impression that he’d gift wrap Taiwan in exchange for an increase in tariffs.
Bandt wasn’t the only ‘the end is nigh’ sandwich board wandering around on the weekend.
New South Wales and Western Australia are hatching plans to collapse the retail and hospitality industries so that they can big note themselves on the international stage of woke-ism.
Straws, cutlery, coffee stirrers, polystyrene and even cotton buds to be banned in a wide-reaching war on single use plastic – or so went the headline in the Daily Mail on June 13th about Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean’s master plan (which he probably copy-pasted from the CSIRO study A circular economy roadmap for plastics, tyres, glass and paper in Australia).
Banning things has become the go-to for lazy politicians scratching around for something to distract voters.
Matt Green – sorry – Kean plans to ban single-use plastics across the state of New South Wales within the next six months, including the single-use plastic shopping bags which most people use to put their rubbish in during the week.
Don’t panic. The face masks clogging up our oceans are still being handed out like candy.
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan is taking a similar approach by banning a range of items including plastic plates, coffee cups, cutlery, and takeaway polystyrene food containers by the end of the year.
At a time when retail and hospitality businesses are quite literally suicidal from more than a year of Covid lockdowns, Kean and McGowan think it would be a great time to take away the cheap essential items which businesses use to distribute their goods.
Setting aside the dystopian horror of a world without cotton buds, what do they imagine is going to happen to cafes, street vendors, and farmers’ markets if they can’t use disposable cutlery, plates, and cups?
Parliament has a lovely little cafe and full restaurant on the premises for the convenience of politicians who are surrounded by a flock of slaves devoted to tending their coffee needs. This change won’t impact McGowan or Kean. Not only are these two paid considerably more than most Australians, their salary has been guaranteed throughout the duration of the pandemic. When they go for a coffee, it is covered by the taxpayer food allowance, just like their cars and drivers. They can even travel if they want, unlike everyone else shackled to their state by tyrannical medical mandates.
Contrast this to the millions of Australians who have lost their homes, jobs, and family businesses. The simple pleasure of buying a coffee is a conscious budgetary decision. The off-hand comment from McGowan that cafes will simply have to offer a more ‘environmentally friendly option’ can reasonably be translated into expecting the impulse buyer to purchase a renewable cup – which they won’t, because no one wants to end up with a hundred overpriced non-degradable plastic cups sitting in their cupboard. Not only that, if a $4.50 coffee is already an economic stretch, what makes these politicians think people are going to fork out double?
In reality, cafes will lose nearly all of their impulse customers while their regular customers will take a massive hit. Have either of these two sat down and done studies into how many people regularly use reusable cups? Stand outside a station in the middle of Sydney and watch the behaviour of customers. It is probably around 2%. What about the percentage of impulse trade? Let’s not even get started on the contractual obligations these establishments have with their suppliers.
Politicians have no idea what the impact of their demands are. Kean and McGowan play with livelihoods as if this is some kind of election game. The economy doesn’t work like that. It is a fragile living thing that has been poisoned and imprisoned for nearly two years. Any careless backhander is likely to cripple it.
It’s not only the coffee cups that Kean hasn’t thought through. He intends to ban styrofoam packaging despite offering no insight into how this would be possible, let alone within the time frame. How is he going to square his legislation with the thousands of local and international manufacturers who ship goods into Australia? If he had ever unboxed a printer or transported fragile goods, he’d know that the light, durable packing material forms a fundamental part of the shipping industry.
Does he really imagine that foreign manufacturers are going to ditch polystyrene to satisfy the whims of an Australian MP? Of course not. In reality, all foreign companies will be allowed to carry on as normal and it will be local Australian businesses that are given yet another economically destructive hurdle to limp over.
Politicians make sweeping announcements like this hoping to hop on the ‘green’ bandwagon and earn themselves votes, but their calculations for political fame and election glory are probably a little off in this case.
Kean might get away with ditching plastic straws but I imagine taking coffee cups from Australians is going to go about as well as banning vodka in Russia.
Far from constituents having their spirits lifted at the thought of ‘doing good’, the first coffee-free Monday morning in the Sydney CBD is going to result in Parliament House being stormed by workers brandishing plastic forks. Scott Morrison will have a full-blown working-class revolution on his hands if he jeopardises people’s hot beverages during this random ice age Australia appears to be experiencing.
“If it can’t be recycled, it shouldn’t be made,” said Amber-Jade Sanderson.
Funny, that’s how most Australians feel about wind turbines and solar panels which pose the greatest threat of non-recyclable landfill waste across the world. Forget the humble, inert plastic – these ‘green’ creations are full of heavy metals, lead, cadmium, silver, crystalline silicon, tellurium and gallium arsenide that leach into the soil as they rot beneath our feet.
Environmental Progress reports that the solar power industry creates three-hundred times more toxic waste than nuclear energy. The level of waste produced by solar and wind is shocking, especially with the relatively short lifespan of individual components seeing full-scale replacements every twenty-odd years. This is the future that these politicians want to march Australia towards – panicking about coffee cups on one hand while burying the nation under an avalanche of toxic waste with the other.
All of this theatre about plastic is performed to cover a much larger problem created by ambivalent and irresponsible recycling policy over the last fifty years.
Australia was very good at recycling its waste until cheap mixed Chinese plastics flooded the manufacturing market which China then offered to buy back off Australia. Local councils began to ship nearly all of their waste to China while local recycling plants were financially ruined. As such, they could not afford to keep pace with the updates to equipment required to sort and clean recyclable goods into saleable items.
Most Australians had no idea that their carefully sorted recycling was sent overseas until China turned around a few years ago and declared they would no longer accept our rubbish. Although publicly promising to handle the problem in-house, Australia redirected most of its waste to Southeast Asia, drowning countries like Indonesia and Malaysia who got sick of being a dumping ground in 2019.
Because Australia has never bothered to invest in proper cleaning and sorting facilities present in other countries, the waste we export is of unusually low quality with around 80% classified as low-grade mixed plastic with even some of our paper contaminated with plastics. This has resulted in a large amount of the waste Australians thought they were recycling being burned in Asia.
The Recycling Market Situation Summary Review in 2020 documents grim statistics. Australia’s sorting of paper and paperboard leaves the price at an unsaleable $0 a tonne. If sorted correctly, prices can be up to $350 a tonne depending what’s on offer. In glass recycling, the sorting process loses between 30-40% of product.
This dire quality of this system has led to waste export bans coming into effect with full export bans set for July 1 2021 and a further one for other materials the following year under the Federal government’s direction.
Morrison’s ban on exporting waste (where it would be sold and treated overseas) is in danger of resulting in increased amounts of rubbish heading to Australia’s landfills because local plants lack the vital parts of the recycling chain required to properly recover materials for reuse.
It seems bizarre that an export ban would be put in place before the recycling facilities needed to complete the chain were implemented, but that is what the government has done and so we are now seeing politicians like Kean and McGowan panic. Banning things is their short-cut solution to avoid difficult questions about the complete failure of government process.
For all their environmental rhetoric and taxes, ‘green’ governments are doing more to bury Australia under toxic waste than any previous leadership.
This is not the public’s fault for enjoying a cup of coffee on the way to work – it is the government’s fault for outsourcing our problems to China without a contingency plan.
Alexandra Marshall is an independent writer. If you would like to support her work, shout her a coffee over at Ko-Fi.
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