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Mr Harry Creamer under the banner of “Climate Change Australia” in the Bellingen Courier, 27 February 2019 declared his support for Mr Rob Oakeshott, an independent candidate for the seat of Cowper at the federal election.

As a professional working in the environmental sustainability industry; the holder of Master of Environmental Management (UNSW), and one of Al Gore’s Climate Reality leaders, I had never heard of the grandly titled “Climate Change Australia” before getting involved in local politics. As it turns out, they’re a small group of environmentalists based in the Hastings – a small group with a big name. Oh, and their patron is Rob Oakeshott. Fancy that! (Source: CCA website)

So, before the media publish letters from organisations with titles, grandiose or warranted, I ask that they check the bona fides and agenda of the individuals and the organisations concerned to enable them to make a considered judgement as to whether their correspondence is worthy of publication or broadcast.

A diversity of opinion is a good thing. Free speech is a good thing. Transparency is a good thing. Credibility is critical. Mr Creamer’s letter lacks transparency and credibility. So, let’s go to the lies, myths and misinformation perpetrated by Mr Cramer in his adoring sermon.

His (Mr Oakeshott’s) achievements included $96 million for Port Macquarie Hospital…” No. Funding for Port Macquarie Hospital came from Ms Nicola Roxon, the federal Minister for Health in the Rudd Labor Government in the 2010 budget. There’s no mention of his patron saint in Ms Roxon’s announcement.

For the record, it was also the Gillard Labor Government and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek that funded $40 million for Kempsey Hospital in the 2012 budget. Again, the patron saint is missing from this announcement.

See: News Releases from Nicola Roxon and Tanya Plibersek

It was Rob Oakeshott who got the $1 billion for the Pacific Highway upgrade, $600 million for the Kempsey By-Pass, and $35 million for the Kempsey to Port Macquarie upgrade, projects now successfully completed.” No. Mr Anthony Albanese promoted and approved these, the Infrastructure and Transport Minister in the Rudd and Gillard governments as a part of an overall $7.9 billion program of works between Port Macquarie and Tweed Heads under Labor.

See: News Releases from Anthony Albanese

Mr Oakeshott (and the Nationals for that matter) need to stop claiming credit for initiatives and funding of the Rudd and Gillard Labor Governments. Give credit where it is due.

He (Mr Oakeshott) was also part of the process that produced the best climate change laws in the world at that time”. And yes, they were federal Labor’s climate change laws. However, let’s remember one fundamental fact. Everyone is familiar with Mr Oakeshott’s infamous 17-minute announcement of who he would support following the 2010 election. People might not remember that it took Mr Oakeshott 17 days, yes, 17 days, to choose between Julia Gillard or the coal-loving, climate change denying and policy obstructionist Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. A true environmentalist would have taken a nanosecond to choose Julia Gillard and Labor. Yet, Mr Oakeshott ummed and ahhed for 17 days and seriously considered installing Tony Abbott as Prime Minister in 2010.

And Mr Cramer, let’s not forget that in early 2012 Mr Oakeshott was promoting “burning native-forest wood for electricity production could kick off more logging, and more conflict”. (Source: The Conversation). How can a person promoting this be a patron of an environment group? Labor doesn’t support Mr Oakeshott’s position and this policy (See: Letter from LEAN citing ALP statements).

And Mr Cramer, let’s not forget, Mr Oakeshott preferenced Luke Hartsuyker of the Nationals ahead of Labor at the 2016 election. (Source: How to vote ). He supported a Liberal-National Government ahead of a Labor Government. And what was the Liberal-National agenda supported by Mr Oakeshott in 2016?  Pushing coal and dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear energy; removing support for renewables; desecrating the CSIRO, the reef and our rivers; helping Adani make their project a reality, and making Australia a pariah and obstructionist in international climate policy circles. And you have him as your patron? Incredible.

Who knows what will happen this election. While I am far from complacent, I am hopeful that we will have a majority Labor Government. I am working hard to be a part of that. If the Nationals win, we will just get more of the same and that’s not much.

If Mr Oakeshott were to win and no party had a majority, who knows who Mr Oakeshott will choose after 17 days and 17 minutes. This time, he may well choose a return of the coal-loving Morrison Liberal-National Government which remains hell-bent on doing as little as possible on climate change, renewables, forests and sustainability. If Mr Oakeshott was a true environmentalist (and a worthy patron of a climate change group), he would (1) preference Labor ahead of the Nationals and (2) commit now to supporting a Labor government. The recent sentiment expressed to me by a leading local environmentalist – “Risky Rob – no way – we need Labor” – is something I hear often.

The only way to ensure real action on climate change is to support the election of a Labor Government. We’ll all be better off with a Labor voice inside that Labor government – a voice of a credible, qualified and committed environmentalist.

Thank you.

Andrew Woodward
Labor candidate for Cowper

PS: If the “Climate Change Australia” organisation was serious about its objectives, it too would be supporting Labor.

Update: 28 February 2019

“Climate Action Australia” today is denying Rob Oakeshott is its patron (see my post yesterday). Well, at 5 pm Wednesday (yesterday), Mr Oakeshott was listed as patron (see the graphic). Thank goodness for screenshots! Today, Mr Oakeshott’s name and title has been removed. Fancy that!

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