Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd states that three of the world's largest mining multinationals have performed sophisticated operations to kill climate action in Australia and continue to exert a daily influence on the government through a vast network of lobbies and an "umbilical" relationship with Murdoch's media.
The paralysis of Australian climate policy has been underway for more than a decade, from the condemned attempt by the Labor government Rudd to introduce an emissions trading system in 2008, to the failed attempt by liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to introduce the national energy guarantee. last year.
Subsequent attempts at serious climate action have faced strong resistance, often driven by industry pressures and have done so contributed to the fall of three recent prime ministers: Rudd, his successor Julia Gillard and Turnbull.
The power of the mining sector to influence Australian politics is notorious. Separated from climate policy, he led an intense anti-resource tax campaign – a 40% tax on mining profits – proposed by Rudd in 2010. The sector harmful $ 22 million lobbying effort helped impose Rudd and gutted the tax on super profits, making it almost useless.
Experts and environmentalists say that the power of the sector comes from political donations, gifts, advertising, paid lobbyists, frequent access and nearby political networks. Rudd said he felt the full weight of that influence.
"Glencore, Rio [Tinto] and BHP have conducted sophisticated political operations against my government, both on climate change and on the mining tax," he told the Guardian. "They worked hard … to get rid of the tax on super profit resources, against the interests of other mining companies and the national economy as a whole. They worked hard … in 2013 against the carbon price "They succeeded in both companies."
Rudd attributes the daily influence of the sector to two mechanisms. The first is what it describes as the vast lobbying network it uses to put pressure on political parties. The second is his close relationship with the media Murdoch, which owns most of the country's print media. Rudd describes the relationship as "umbilical".
"When did you last see the media Murdoch criticize one of these companies?" Said Rudd. "Rarely. If ever."
BHP, Glencore and Rio Tinto and News Corp owned by Murdoch, declined to comment.
The University of Melbourne George Rennie, a lobbying expert, sees the mining industry as one of the most powerful groups in Australia. His power, he says, manifests itself in the ability to put high-level politicians on the phone or to meet face-to-face with relative ease.
"His ability to access decision makers is famous, and the experience of the" mining tax "campaign in 2010 made both sides scared of accepting mining interests," said Rennie. "The power of the resource sector comes from its profits: its ability to spend on donations and gifts, as well as its political advertising if it wishes.
"There is disproportionate power, so if you want to put pressure on the government for something the resource sector does not want, it is very unlikely that you will get your way."
The limited information available to the public on political access in Australia confirms Rennie's opinion. An analysis of the Guardian of the data of the ministerial diary compiled by the Grattan Institute thinkstank shows that the mining and energy sector enjoys frequent access to government leaders in two of Australia's most important mining states: Queensland and New South Wales.
The executives of the mining and energy industry met the premier of Queensland, vice premier or treasurer 44 times in 2017-18 alone. This figure excludes renewable energy companies and energy retailers and does not count meetings with ministers, backbenchers or minor bureaucrats.
Access to the highest levels of power was also significant, though less frequent, in New South Wales. There, the sector guaranteed access to the NSW Prime Minister, Deputy Minister or Treasurer 13 times in 2016-17 .
Data from the Grattan Institute show that the mining sector is responsible for the highest percentage of important donations to political parties. Mining interests represented one in five donations exceeding $ 60,000 in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Kate Griffiths, senior associate of the Grattan Institute, studied lobbying, donations and political influence in Australia, helping to publish a report titled last year Who's in the room? He said the sector is different from the others due to its widespread diffusion by commercial lobbyists and the pursuit of face-to-face meetings with ministers.
"It's also a decent exchange of personnel between mining and energy companies and political offices," Griffiths told the Guardian. "Mining and energy companies have the resources to hire former politicians and political advisors so that they can create a certain intimacy that makes both access and influence more likely."
The revolving door between politics and mining is a feature of both major Australian parties. Brendan Pearson, former head of Australia's flagship mining lobby group, the Minerals Council of Australia, recently joined the Liberal Prime Minister's office, Scott Morrison, as senior adviser.
From the other side, Gary Gray, former minister of labor resources, joined the mining sector in his post-political career, including work at the mining services company Mineral Resources Limited.
Martin Ferguson, another former minister of labor resources, is now the chairman of the advisory committee at the peak of the oil and gas industry, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
Cameron Milner, Labor strategist, lobbied for Indian mining giant Adani for five years before parting ways to work in the campaign of Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in 2017
Industry also exerts influence in less obvious ways. A survey by Guardian Australia revealed this year a multi-million dollar secret influence campaign, conducted by C | T Group, lobbyist led by Lynton Crosby, on behalf of Glencore.
The campaign, known as Project Caesar, included the creation of fake online grassroots groups that spread anti-renewable and pro-carbon content to unsuspecting users. It aimed to shift the excitement and tone of the energy debate in Australia to favor coal using messages of personal relevance, centered on issues of cost, reliability and family safety.
Campaign teams also collected material that could be used to embarrass activist groups like Greenpeace and 350.org.
Dom Rowe, director of the Greenpeace Australia Pacific program, said the lack of a credible climate policy in Australia could be directly attributed to the influence of the industry.
"Considering the vast network of influence and direct access that fossil fuel managers and lobbyists have towards senior government ministers, it is not surprising that the Coalition has not yet taken any significant action on reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, which have been on the rise for over four years, "said Rowe.
"It is absolutely unacceptable that both major parties are abandoning their responsibility to protect Australians from the worst impacts of the climate crisis, in favor of not biting the hand that feeds."