Energy minister Gary Gray: I’m no longer a climate sceptic

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Australia’s newly appointed energy minister admits he was once a fierce climate sceptic, but is now embarrassed by his former position.

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Australia’s newly appointed Minister for Energy and Resources, Gary Gray admitted he was once a fierce climate sceptic, but now says he is embarrassed by his former position on climate science.

Asked on ABC TV’s Lateline program, Gray admitted that he had once branded climate science as a middle class conspiracy, as pop science, and he had attended the inaugural meeting of the Lavoisier Group in May, 2000, an Australian group dedicated to repudiating climate science.

“I was a vocal climate skeptic,” Gray said. “I said things that frankly embarrass me when I hear them played back.”

He added later: “I attended the inaugural meeting of the Lavoisier group. I counted and still count as friends members of that organization. I just don’t agree with them any more.”

Gray said there was “no doubt” about the climate science and there was undeniable link between carbon pollution and industrial activity, which the world needed to address, and “we can address.”

As the Minster for Resources, Gray – a former executive with Woodside Petroleum – will oversee projects worth several hundred billion of dollars in coal mining and liquefied natural gas.

He said he saw little difference between himself and his predecessor Martin Ferguson, or indeed Ian Macfarlane, who preceded Ferguson and will likely emerge as Energy and Resources minister again should the conservative parties win the election in September, as polls predict.

“I fit comfortably in that vein,” Gray said. “It will be business as usual.” In an interview with Radio National’s Breakfast program, Gray said it was true that he was “close” to the resources industry.

That may not offer much comfort to The Greens or environmental groups, who have decried his appointment as favouring the fossil fuel industry.

“I wouldn’t expect my appointment to be applauded by the Greens. I’m not a green, and any green who thinks I am a Green is mistaken,” Gray said.

However, Greens leader Christine Milne – referring to the global carbon budget that has been highlighted by the UN, International Energy Agency, the IMF, HSBC Bank, and Standard & Poor’s – says that Gray could not have it both ways.

“So Gary Gray you have changed your mind on climate science … what does that now mean for expanded coal mining and exports?” she said in a statement.

“You either accept the science and accept the overwhelming volume of existing fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground in order to have any hope of constraining global warming to less than two degrees.

“Or you accept the science and with informed consent you drive fossil fuel extraction, climate change and extreme weather events. Which is it Gary Gray?”

He was not posed any questions about the electricity industry, or on renewable energy. The former union leader is the member for Brand, in Western Australia, which has one of the highest penetrations of rooftop solar in the country.

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7 Comments
  1. keith williams 7 years ago

    If he isn’t a climate sceptic anymore, how can he support “business as usual” with coal and gas exploitation? …. just more of both political parties living in denial of what is happening to the climate.

  2. Alan Baird 7 years ago

    When Gary Gray says he sloshes along in the same VEIN as Ferguson and Macfarlane it speaks volumes about the limited extent of effective action he proposes to take. Coal exports will be ramped up if at all possible and all quite sustainable in the sense that there is plenty of coal left.
    Not much climate stability, but. However, I’m being much too negative. Just think of the boon to the tourist industry. Conjure up groups of US tornado chasers in northern Victoria hiring SUVs. And the climate sceptics are quite right about renewable energy. There is no way that solar and wind can ever balance the gigantic exports of coal which will, quite possibly, be burnt.
    In summary, Gary would have been the perfect minister if the first Gillard Govt had been elected… WITHOUT the Greens. Book him into the Sydney Institute Gerard, to discuss how he will bridge the gap between climate and coal. He’s quite confident even if I’m not. Wake me when it’s over.

  3. Richard Hayes 7 years ago

    Australia is going to be left with the worst of all possible scenarios. We will continue to create ‘coal terminals’ and rail infrastructure for Billions of dollars and all of it will be written-off within a few years.

    China will have an absolute cap on energy usage before the end of the first Abbot government. India can not import any coal due to price restrictions on domestic electricity. Even if India and other developing countries want to have a centralised power system, you still need to spend huge amounts on poles and wires.

    New energy systems will look a like the mobile phone network and by-pasting the whole running power to everybody phase.

  4. Alastair 7 years ago

    Such a disappointment Emma Alberici wasn’t of a mood to actually ask Gary Grey about his *present day* positions on renewable energy and the transition to 100% renewables. I mean if Grey can acknowledge Climate Change catastrophes are a clear and present danger then why not ask an Energy Minister what he plans to do about it?

    Ofttimes the seemingly-self-satisfied Alberici belongs to the more recent school of ABC presenter where flashy smiles outweigh a terse +series+ of penetrating questions. The lack of follow up questions generally on ABC TV news media to really get at key issues is so disillusioning. They’re supposed to be the better interviewers/journos at ABC and are so middle of the road these days. Like they don’t even know what big issues and critical fulcrums at all.

  5. coomadoug 7 years ago

    Just dont buy any coal shares. The coal power stations will be sold off to super annuation and in this way use indirect tax to cushin the fall.

  6. Bill 7 years ago

    Hi Gary. Neither side of the debate is going to take you seriously.

  7. john Ward 6 years ago

    Tory John Abbott’s unshakable mandate, for the next ten years.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-LUYiw3q04#action=share

    These are the issues that we as Australians must now face and that will, mean as John Hewson once suggested “The Liberal party needs to tear down, and rebuild the Australian economy brick by brick from the ground up”.

    Abbott is now on his crusade to do just that .

    We need to prepare for the austerity and the recession that we are about to crash into. The Liberals know no other way to manage.

    Tasmania drew the short straw 2 years ago when Labor Premier Giddings tried to out do her liberal opponents in a race to the “Liberal Party’s Holy Grail” of mindless austerity in order to promote prosperity, delivered by ‘the invisible hand of the market place god’.

    She (Lara Giddings) head hunted an economist from the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to design an austerity strategy to beat the Liberals to the punch.

    He did, and the evidence of this traditional failed experiment of Liberal thinking is clearly demonstrated across the state. Tasmania has become a basket case with >8% unemployed.

    I’m betting Abbott will say its failed Labor / Green policies. Don’t you believe it .

    It is pure Liberal harsh austerity medicine you have to take so that the numbers add up on his bottom line. Remember this is the guy who says “live within your means” while he himself has a mortgage like every one else, yet he wants you to save up before you buy that education or have that operation.

    Tony has said it himself, that long term thinking is not popular with the Australian people and he has made it crystal clear that he is focused on the short term.

    Abbott has also stated he will break no promise, core or non-core.

    Abbott convinced the electorate that the economy in an emergency and that it was trashed.

    Whatever he does from now, he must be made to own.

    My sincere belief is that the strategy outlined below will reverse most of the economic management and social advances achieved in the last six years, and as a result the economy as it relates to the general population will spiral downwards fast enough for them to have their belief in Tory politics destroyed for a generation.

    All the policy actions listed below had been foreshadowed, for the past three years. Mr Abbott, did say“no surprises” so over time he has covertly warned us. We were not listening closely enough.

    He says these are precisely targeted, but he says nothing about the collateral damage they will inflict on those who were naive enough to believe him.

    He now has a mandate according to your vote, to do the following.

    Lower the tax-free threshold from $18,200 back to $6000. This will drag more than one million low-income earners back into the tax system. It will also increase the taxes for 6 million Australians earning less than $80,000. Thereby;

    Saving families $300 dollars a year of Carbon Tax but cost them $2,300 per year in reinstated tax.

    Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB)

    The Opposition costings enumerated the “associated expenditure” that would be chopped along with the mining tax. (These were the spending measures the Labor Government proposed to fund through the tax, when it expected it to raise $22 billion.)

    Privatise Medibank.

    Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme.

    Privatise Australia Post.

    Privatise SBS.

    Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function.

    Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport.

    End all public subsidies to sport and the arts.

    Privatise the CSIRO.

    Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built.

    Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship.

    Abolish the means-tested School kids Bonus that benefits 1.3 million families by providing up to $410 for each primary school child and up to $820 for each high school child.

    Abolish the Baby Bonus

    Repeal the National Curriculum

    Introduce competing private secondary school curriculum

    Repeal the mining tax

    Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

    Repeal the Fair Work Act

    Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them

    Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it.

    Repeal the marine park Legislation

    Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act

    Abolish the low-income superannuation contribution.

    Abolish the proposed 15 percent tax on income from.

    End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws

    Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement

    Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food.

    Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling

    Introduce a paid parental leave scheme that replaces a mother’s salary up to $150,000.

    Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784.

    Abolish the Clean Energy Fund DONE13/09/13

    Abolish the Department of Climate Change

    Repeal the renewable energy target

    Encourage the construction of dams

    Introduce voluntary voting.

    End mandatory disclosures on political donations.

    End media blackout in final days of election campaigns.

    End public funding to political parties

    Introduce fee competition to Australian universities.

    Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities.

    Means test tertiary student loans

    Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools

    Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency.

    Abolish the means test on the private health insurance rebate.

    Repeal the Alcopops tax.

    Means-test Medicare.

    Cease subsidising the car industry.

    End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.

    Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database.

    End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering.

    Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including.

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