Sidestepping the Apocalypse – Address to the Carbon Market Institute

Sidestepping the Apocalypse – Address to the Carbon Market Institute

A hell summer in Oz, super storms smashing people world wide, a million species on the chopping block. The incoming national govt must take emergency steps now. My address to Carbon Market Institute:


Sidestepping the Apocalypse

I want to thank the Carbon Market Institute and CEO Peter Castellas, for the invitation to deliver this keynote address.

This year’s summit is titled ‘Future proofing the Australian Economy’. I’ve been in the field of climate politics for a while now, and given the task facing all of us is much greater than this measured conference title implies, I’ve decided to title my address ‘Sidestepping the Apocalypse’.

I came of age in a time of optimism mixed with fear. On the plus side; the moon landing, no major wars or economic depressions, at least in Australia.

On the negative side; the build up of nuclear weapons, a cold war with the potential to go hot, emerging environmental degradation and widespread poverty in many developing countries.

Some of these issues have been partly or fully resolved, a number are still works in progress. But now catastrophic climate chaos is propelling the foundations of our existence into a tailspin, making it even harder for us to prevail over multiple global and local challenges.

I have experienced a lot of confronting things over a lifetime fixed on music and political activism. You may not be surprised to know that I also had some bring-you-up-short moments during my decade in the federal parliament, firstly serving as a Labor shadow minister with responsibility for climate change, then spending six years in cabinet as environment and then education minister.

However, the most confronting event I experienced in that period actually had nothing to do with federal politics.

As it happened, I was one of the first politicians to visit the towns of Kinglake and Marysville, just an hour’s drive north of here, after the monster Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.

Nothing prepared me for the staggering scale of destruction so close at hand.

Some 173 people perished, many more were injured – a loss that to this day still ripples out through families and the community. The razed bush was then eerily silent, with hundreds of tens of thousands of native species gone. The hills were a moonscape, where battalions of bare, blackened sticks stood forlornly in a huge sea of ash that stretched as far as the eye could see.

As I stood looking out I was confronted by what I’d seen, but also by a thought that must have occurred to others … “this is just a taste of things to come”.

Bushfires are a part of Australian life, to be sure, but it was obvious how vulnerable many communities were as days grew hotter and summers longer. Of course this was a part of the Labor government’s rationale for acting to

curb greenhouse gas emissions. These events would happen with greater ferocity, and unless we pressed the start button and began to reduce carbon, we would be consigning future generations to a dangerous life in the land of the blazing inferno.

This was the great moral challenge of our time. That’s what I thought then. I believe it even more strongly today.

Fast-forward ten years and the Great Barrier Reef; the greatest natural wonder in the world, generator of masses of income and many thousands of jobs, is being scalded beyond recognition. As is another World Heritage area that we are duty bound to conserve, the Tropical Rainforests of North Queensland, with ever warming conditions the main culprit.

We have emerged from another record breaking hotter than hell summer, where our single most important major river system has been brought to its knees, stopped flowing altogether, and bushfire activity is again off the scale.

The fire chief of the central Queensland region – below the site of the proposed giant Adani coal mine – was moved to observe that he’d never seen anything like such intense early season wildfires, again with warmer weather the culprit. To the north emergency services were stretched to breaking point by cyclones and floods that followed the fires.

As temperatures keep inexorably rising, coupled with yet another drought elsewhere in the land, it was inevitable that water shortages weren’t far away. Sure enough Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are now preparing for water rationing. Inland NSW towns are desperately low, some have run out of water, and you.can’ Even Darwin in monsoon land will have to restrict water use for the first time ever.

So I find myself, amidst the talk of Kyoto, Paris, RETs, NEGs, carbon markets, costs and opportunities, percentage reductions, and parts per million, laboring the point, restating what has been bleeding obvious for some time. We are turning the world upside down and inside out, boiling it almost over.

“Climate change” is not remotely adequate to describe what we are seeing all around us. The term I choose to use is “climate chaos” as it’s simply a more accurate description of what is happening all around the globe.

Much of the media and mainstream culture are still actively or passively in denial, although it will grow ever harder to tackle climate chaos with each passing month of ignorance, be it willful or blind.

Despite – or maybe even because of this – I retain the hope that we can get on top of this raging, runaway monster. But to do so we will need to squarely face the reality of what the science is telling us.

I retain hope because through the smoky haze of history, and presently visible in schools and boardrooms, on farms and in families, a growing human resolve to respond to this crisis can be discerned. People can and will organise, galvanize others and bring forward planet saving solutions.

And contrary to the accepted wisdom repeated ad nauseum that Australia has experienced a decade of woeful climate politics and inaction, I contend the truth is a little different.

After a rocky start, marked by obstructive politics from the Coalition and the Green Party, accompanied by a loss of nerve by the then Labor leadership when the initial carbon pollution reduction scheme foundered, Australia did start to get on top of dangerous climate chaos. With good policy in place, we soon had the highest per capita installation of Solar PV on households in the world.

The eventual introduction of a price on carbon in 2011 saw actual emissions reductions – the holy grail of climate policy – and notwithstanding the warnings of various Chicken Littles the sky didn’t fall in. It was a brief but successful interregnum, despite it’s limited ambition.

The market mechanism was working until wrecker in chief Tony Abbott reemerged and the climate wars resumed. But given the right leadership and sufficient will, we can do it again.

We know there are powerful voices which still argue against change.

Some recalcitrants – nations states, corporations and individuals – have a threatened business model.

Some deny the facts and choose fanciful conspiracy theories to justify their superstition, even whilst occupying the Treasury benches.

Some persist in thinking a magic technology pill will emerge that can instantly cure the ‘warmer planet’ disease. Or get excited about people, maybe America’s rich listers, settling on Mars, where conditions are so conducive to fertility, growing your own vegies will be a doddle.

Others seem plain afraid of humanity coming together. Perhaps their deepest fear, as Nelson Mandela once observed, is being ‘powerful beyond measure’, and actually taking a giant collective step.

So it’s worth recapping what we know.

There’s too much CO2 in the system already, and concentrations are increasing. We passed 415ppm – an unthinkable statistic when we were first alerted to global warming – on Hawaii only two days ago.

The current economic model is literally unsustainable. Business as usual expectations, such as ramped up activity across a range of sectors like air travel or forecast GDP growth increases, make a mockery of current policies and targets. That is unless drastic steps are taken to reach the mandatory goal of zero net emissions by 2050.

The extent and effect of cumulative and non-linear climate chaos impacts is just beginning to emerge, whether by mega droughts and super storms affecting agricultural productivity and risking food crises, or sea level incursion spreading disease and sparking social unrest.

The nearly 8 billion people on earth – mainly in the major emitting nations – poured around 37 billion tonnes of CO 2 into the atmosphere last year, the highest amount ever.

Now there are those who say. ‘Well I accept that we can’t go on pumping out vast quantities of greenhouse gases. I agree we have to do something’. This usually means a so called orderly transition to a low carbon economy; harnessing the market; creating new value, utilizing innovation, advancing renewable technologies and the like.

I agree market forces with redirected capital investment and expanded trading opportunities can accelerate emission reductions. In fact they are essential. But an approach fixated on risk management, existing market processes and incremental steps will not by itself be enough.

That was an option in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was agreed. It is not an option today. The ambitious transformations now required will not be without pain and not without large losses for some sectors and their investors. It should be noted they were duly warned and informed. They chose to deny and delay rather than act, so they will soon have to reap their own bitter harvest.

As you would be aware the major recent scientific study by the IPCC, has worked through the data challenging previous assumptions about the speed and scale of global warming.

The tipping point cautious scientists refer to when positing when we lose control of earth’s climate is closer than most people think.

We must halve CO2 emissions by 2030, and reach net zero emissions by 205 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, past which point we experience a runaway climate.

Whilst the human race won’t be extinct in eleven years, that is the logical endgame of climate chaos – rising seas, spreading deserts, economic collapse, nations warring over scarce resources, ecosystem breakdown – in a longer timeframe, if we don’t take decisive action now.

Given this scenario it is a relief that there are positive signs of a reinvigorated thirst for change. The community is starting to rise up.

The polls show that climate/environment has moved higher as an issue of concern for voters in the upcoming election. Young people, who will bear the greatest burden of a failure to act, are on the streets.

Civil disobedience – the type of activism that defined my early days as a campaigner against nuclear weapons – has emerged courtesy of the Extinction Rebellion and the school strikes for climate. This is to be applauded.

There is a growing momentum within the business community, as evidenced here tonight. Internationally there is much activity aimed at transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables, with many European nations on the front foot and China and India out of the blocks as well.

There are a growing number of examples.

The UK government has announced an early phase out of coal-fired power. And the recent parliamentary declaration of a climate emergency driven by the Labor opposition is a sign of things to come. The election commitment by Federal Labor to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 is a positive start.

On this issue alone the Coalition have forfeited any right to be taken seriously for reasons too obvious and depressing to rehash tonight. Just think lumps of coal brought into Parliament by the current Prime Minister, arguably the most misplaced talisman in recent memory.

If we fail to act on climate chaos at this point in our history then Australians will be hostage to external and increasingly unpredictable events of an order of magnitude and seriousness of threat most reasonably compared to war.

I’m not comfortable with the military analogy but it is applicable for the simple fact that it is the closest example we have for an incoming government to reference.

Climate chaos washes across borders, it is on a world scale. Our national interest is at stake, as is our relations with other nation states.

So let me sketch out what satisfactorily coming to grips with this crisis might entail. An approach if we took the science at face value and responded – as we do on matters of national defence and security – to logically address major and existential risks that threaten our peace and stability.

Firstly the incoming government must follow suit and declare runaway climate change a bona fide national emergency.

Next, if a Labor government is elected it should call for a bipartisan approach, supported by Liberal and minor party MP’s who understand the issue and are willing to cross the floor, along with any elected Independents, most who have already shown themselves to be so minded. This is how nations behave when they are threatened as ours now is.

Parliament should – as soon as possible – pass into law Labor’s existing climate policy commitments including on emission reduction targets, and stronger environment laws. Whilst leaving open the capacity to ramp up those measures once diligent consideration has been given to how best to manage the climate chaos emergency.

The government should also convene climate emergency national summit (one is already planned with unions) with stakeholders of goodwill. Drawing on existing expertise from BOM, CSIRO, The Climate Council, The Chief Scientist, Universities, security agencies, relevant departments, unions, churches and civil society, to better delineate the scope of climate chaos impacts across all sectors, and plot the transition path to zero carbon.

Businesses that are genuinely engaged and want to be part of this great economic transformation should be welcomed. Their energy, excitement and expertise is needed to open up the possibilities ahead.

Many of them will profit hugely from the myopic leadership of the old fashioned businesses they replace. We should celebrate that success as these true leaders help to build more sustainable businesses for the benefit of all.

Then there are those that resist and delay change – and seek to socialize their losses. To put it mildly, they should not be welcomed. Their resistance helped get us into deep trouble and the market should be left to deal with them through the consequential loss of value. As I say, they were duly warned and chose to ignore those warnings.

Returning to the idea of a national emergency government.

Our national interest also requires a reconfiguration of COAG so as to better direct planning and infrastructure decisions aimed at managing climate chaos. It is untenable for local government, territories and small state governments to be expected to bear the brunt of those costs when an integrated national approach is clearly essential.

There are a raft of to do’s needing urgent attention including; Lifting commercial and residential building energy efficiency ratings and vehicle emissions standards; substantially improving water efficiency infrastructure to better handle longer, hotter periods including droughts; containing coastal development, especially that vulnerable to sea level rise and storm incursion; ensuring grid improvements, accelerated adoption of electric vehicles.

How about a massive public works scheme to make the country more resilient to extreme climate, including the provision of large scale carbon sinks to drawdown carbon – also a way to engage our farmers and regional communities – and rehabilitation of degraded waterways and landscapes, with substantial participation by First Nation’s peoples?

How about a speedy and rapid transition out of coal, with an immediate moratorium on future coal, oil and gas developments, whilst increasing the target for renewables and then let the market continue to get on with the job? This is where all the jobs growth will be.

How about the provision of regular and clear information on the progress of climate change via weather reports, a state of the carbon budget report, a natural set of accounts alongside the current budget?

The government should issue long-term climate bonds to boost available finance, and enact sensible tax reform measures targeted at unsustainable activities and free riders.

So as I say, there’s a lot to do and we need to act now otherwise the challenge gets harder and the ‘to do’ lists grow longer.

Of course many of these proposals have already been canvassed, some have been in place and had success. Others are self evidently needed. What is required to drive the change is this sense of urgency.

Ladies and Gentlemen this is about much more than “future proofing the economy” this is about ensuring that the economy – and the people who it notionally serves – actually get to have a future.

Internationally Australia needs to return to the table with a pro-active and constructive stance to advancing global action.

It is nothing short of scandalous that as a first world nation with high per capita emissions, exporting coal at the volumes we do, we have been a laggard and spoiler in international climate negotiations whenever the Coalition has been in office. History will judge our role in this period harshly.

We should strengthen our relationships across the Pacific and South East Asian sphere with co-operative policies and action on climate as the primary driver. This approach has the added benefit of lessening our vassal state status, providing ballast in the region against the expansionist tendencies of China, and the quixotic nature of current US foreign policy.

A super department aligned to Treasury, similar to the Department of Post War Reconstruction headed up by Nugget Coombes in 1946, with the specific task of implementing the transition should be established, as should a stand- alone ‘War’ Cabinet committee, charged with the responsibility of overseeing the new initiatives, and ensuring Australia meets it’s emission reduction goals.

We should breathe life back into our democracy by establishing and empowering climate panels, with representatives from local government, civil society institutions and community groups to feedback on the progress and details of implementation to their community, local MP’s and to the Parliament. There are many lessons from WWII of the power and benefit of such an approach during a national crisis.

Globally we will see shifts driven by the end of fossil fuels, with many countries that are rich and powerful today facing massive economic hardships and resulting societal blowback occasioned by their loss of oil income.

Regionally, we could see food and climate crises driving climate refugees our way on a scale beyond anything we have ever faced. This isn’t so implausible, for even with the best-case global emergency response to climate, as past emissions will continue to lead to climate chaos and worsening impacts for decades after the carbon curve finally gets bent downwards.

This climate emergency approach needs to be central to future security and defence planning as well defining a strong and positive engagement with our neighbours – in our national interest and in theirs.

Without sounding alarmist I believe the Australian Defence Forces and the Reserve need to be geared up and ready to play a greater role given climate chaos will put significant pressure on domestic infrastructure and emergency services, and the unpredictable ways it could reshape geopolitics in our region.

This is just a sketch of what we must consider. It is not farfetched or utopian. It is what any rational response to the climate science tell us we must do if we are to manage the difficult new world of climate chaos.

There is another component of sidestepping apocalypse that needs hard thinking, and that is how we humans act.

Most of what I’ve suggested can only be undertaken by a strong national government, deploying the full arsenal of the modern state to meet a clear and present danger. It is fanciful to think it can happen any other way.

But politics is on the nose at present, with fractured party loyalties and extreme on line gatherings stirring the possum. Governments and their bureaucracies, panels, committees, companies and communities are only as capable and responsible as the people that make them up, and, as the people who vote for them and must hold them to account. Now our values must be strengthened to meet this desperate time as well.

We have to reprioritize doing no harm, and try and peel away the cynical, greedy parts of our nature (note to self) that is so subject to manipulation by the marketing and advertising industry.

We must nurture our capacity for empathy, and love for others, and the living planet that sustains us.

We have to truly embody the principle of intergenerational equity; in our actions and those of the institutions we are a part of, not in empty proclamations and facile PR, but in real action.

We have to think clearly about the interconnected nature of the natural world, one where a million species are now threatened with extinction, in part by climate dysfunction. No one will escape from global warming in a gated housing complex.

Water and soil and atmosphere, oceans and forests, already in a parlous state, must be made healthy again. Ecosystems cannot continually be depleted, especially when under such pressures as extreme weather, till a wasteland is the final framed photograph of our era. And all we have left is a snapshot memory of missed opportunities, life dimming at the end of a waste ridden, rutted road.

To be blunt, the collective ‘we’, have to stop indulging in fantasy and denial and get on with the job at hand.

Now I happen to believe we can succeed. After all, what is the alternative? And there are many reasons to think we can.

Firstly while the task can seem overwhelming it’s not that difficult. We have the technologies and more are on the way. We have an economy that can respond very quickly to new inputs and constraints, new opportunities, a zero carbon model to aim for, exciting innovation to drive the system, multiple job creation, and little socialising of loss, providing government institutes the right settings – this world is an exciting place to be.

Secondly Australians have a good chance of managing the transformation required. We are good at consensus. We have experienced overall improvements in living conditions, with notable exceptions, and our knowledge base is broad. Our relative peace and stability are incredible domestic assets in this time of turmoil we are now entering.

Thirdly, this is the spirit of the age. Climate chaos is the meta issue above all others, not in importance, but in urgency and irreversibility, and to be a part of waging the good fight to bring the mother ship back into balance can bring meaning and purpose to each and every person in this age.

Now tonight I’ve deliberately avoided using the term “Climate Change” but in closing I’ll use that term just once … I actually believe we urgently need a ‘climate change’ if we are to deal with deadly climate chaos. Governments, corporations, NGO’s, Unions, Individuals. We all need to change and lift our approach to climate. To quote a rock’n’roll band I know and love “it happens to be an emergency, some things aren’t meant to be”.

So let’s get on with sidestepping the apocalypse, and start making the world a safer, saner place in which everyone can survive, prosper and grow.

– Peter Garrett, Melbourne 2019

Midnight Oil reveal final 2019 gigs and possible recording plans

Midnight Oil reveal final 2019 gigs and possible recording plans

Iconic Australian rock band Midnight Oil today announced two intimate gigs for late May. These will be the Oils’ only Australian concerts for 2019 apart from their headlining appearance at the world’s most remote music festival, The Big Red Bash, near Birdsville on July 18.

Tickets for the two warm up shows at Anita’s in Wollongong on Thursday 23 May and Canberra’s Royal Theatre on Monday 27 May will go on sale to members of Midnight Oil’s mailing list from 2pm AEST on Tuesday 9 April. Given the unusually small size of these venues they are expected to sell out quickly. A second batch will then be available to the general public from 10am on Friday 12 April. Strict anti-scalping measures will be in place for both dates and further ticketing information is detailed below. As always, fans are strongly advised to avoid using search engines like Google to find tickets as they steer buyers to unscrupulous and expensive overseas resellers. Instead fans should avoid getting ripped off by simply clicking the links to the official ticket agencies at

Appropriately for a band who are longtime advocates for First Nations peoples, the Canberra show will take place on Reconciliation Day, which is a public holiday in the A.C.T.

“Meaningful steps towards reconciliation are long overdue, including a whole of government response to the Uluru Declaration, so it will be good to be in Canberra on this important date to kick up a fuss and help get the issue back on track,” said the band’s frontman, Peter Garrett.

Special guests for the Wollongong show will be local experimental pop band Shining Bird, while acclaimed Darwin singer-songwriter Leah Flanagan will open proceedings in Canberra.

Immediately following these gigs, the Oils will head to Europe for headline concerts in cities including London, Manchester, Dublin and Paris, as well as major festivals in France, Switzerland and Germany, before returning home for The Big Red Bash. Tickets for that unique music event in the QLD desert are already selling fast. Transport and camping packages are available here for anyone still considering a trip to see Midnight Oil play at sunset with a gigantic outback sand dune as their backdrop.

In other big news the Oils have also confirmed rumours that they hope to track some new music for possible release in 2020. If all goes to plan these would be their first recordings since 2001. At this stage it is not known whether a new song or two will be previewed at some point during their tour, but the band currently plans to head straight into the studio when they come off the road.

Oils drummer Rob Hirst said,

“We’ve been talking about recording again for years but The Great Circle Tour in 2017 was such a positive experience that it made us even hungrier to get back to making new music together. It’s a bit early to know what might come out of it yet – we’re just looking forward to getting back into that creative mode.”

Last, but certainly not least, Midnight Oil also announced today that they will perform a couple of songs acoustically at the 1 Million Women LoveEarth Festival, which happens from 9:30am on 25 May at Carriageworks, Sydney. 1 Million Women is one of the world’s largest women’s movements acting on climate chaos. This is their big birthday bash after 10 years of action on climate change and it will be streamed online around the world. Their LoveEarth Festival is a morning of inspiration involving speeches from world leaders, women from the front lines of climate change, sustainable fashion gurus, zero wasters and musicians, including a brief but special acoustic performance by Midnight Oil. For tickets and more information please go to



Peter Garrett – Lead Vocals

Rob Hirst – Drums + Vocals

Martin Rotsey – Guitar

Jim Moginie – Guitar, Keyboards + Vocals

Bones Hillman – Bass + Vocals


MAY 2019

With special guests Shining Bird (Wollongong) & Leah Flanagan (Canberra)

Presented by Frontier Touring


Begins: Tue 9 Apr (2pm AEST)
Ends: Wed 10 Apr (2pm AEST)

or ends earlier if pre-sale allocation exhausted


Begins: Tue 9 Apr (2pm AEST)
Ends: Wed 10 Apr (2pm AEST)

or ends earlier if pre-sale allocation exhausted



Begins: Fri 12 Apr (10am local time)

Thu 23 May
Anita’s Theatre | Wollongong, NSW

With special guests Shining Bird

Lic. Over 18 (minors must be accompanied by parent/guardian) | Ph: 136 100

Mon 27 May
Royal Theatre | Canberra, ACT

With special guest Leah Flanagan

Lic. Over 18 (minors must be accompanied by parent/guardian) | Ph: 132 849








Thu 18 Jul
Big Red Bash | Birdsville, QLD

All Ages
Tickets via
All tickets include 3 day unlimited access to festival site plus 4 nights camping on site


JUNE & JULY 2019

Full details and tickets via

Sun 9 Jun                    O2 Apollo | Manchester, England

Tue 11 Jun                  Olympia | Dublin, Ireland

Thu 13 Jun                  O2 Brixton Academy | London, England

Sat 15 Jun                   Festi’neuch Openair Festival | Neuchatel, Switzerland

Mon 17 Jun                  Stadtpark | Hamburg, Germany

Wed 19 Jun                 Porta Nigra | Trier, Germany

Fri 21 Jun                    Zeltfestival | Mannheim, Germany

Sat 22 Jun                   Rock the Ring | Hinwil, Switzerland

Thu 27 Jun                  Grand Rex | Paris, France

Sat 29 Jun                   Festival Retro C Trop | Tilloloy, France

Mon 1 Jul                     Tollwood Festival | Munich, Germany

Wed 3 Jul                    Killesberg | Stuttgart, Germany

Fri 5 Jul                        Rock Zottegem | Zottegem, Belgium

Sat 6 Jul                      Zitadelle | Mainz, Germany

Tue 9 Jul                      Les Nuits De Fourviere Festival | Lyon, France

Thu 11 Jul                    Guitare en Scene Festival | Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, France

Sat 13 Jul                    Amphitheatre | Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Some very good news for the future of Kakadu National Park and Jabiru

Some very good news for the future of Kakadu National Park and Jabiru

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, representing the Mirarr traditional owners of Jabiru township in Kakadu National Park, today welcomed the announcement of Coalition and ALP backing for the town’s masterplan and for the revitalisation of Kakadu.

In July 2018 the Mirarr presented and negotiated a vision and detailed masterplan for the economic future of the former mining town and the surrounding park. While the NT provided in‐principle support, until today the position of federal politicians was unclear.

The Mirarr have primary responsibility for the town which is the service centre for Kakadu and West Arnhem Land. Gundjeihmi will now work closely with both the federal and Northern Territory levels of government to transition the town from its mining past to a future destination for visitors from across Australia and the globe.

“We look forward to welcoming more people to Jabiru and Kakadu to share our country and cultural heritage,” said Mirarr Traditional Owner Simon Nabanardi. “As the town changes, we hope Jabiru will be recognised around the world as a significant Australian cultural destination, a place where learning about living culture is accessible in a meaningful way.”

“Today’s announcements are very welcome and timely as the town needs certainty for its future viability and Kakadu is in dire need of a refresh,” said Justin O’Brien, CEO of GAC.

“For this investment to succeed it needs the genuine engagement of Traditional Owners, outside the usual bureaucratic processes of the National Park Board of Management. This means a direct hand in the new tourism masterplan and roads strategy for the Park, and more direct control over the protection and care for the significant Indigenous cultural heritage in the Park.” Mr O’Brien said.

“The Mirarr plan for Jabiru embraces emerging technology and provides for meaningful partnerships with industry to create innovative and meaningful cultural tourism experiences. The vision is to set a new standard internationally for visitor engagement with Indigenous country and culture,” Mr O’Brien concluded.

Gundjeihmi has consistently advocated for Jabiru’s transition from mining to tourism and service delivery. As early as November 2000, Mirarr senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula and then Australian Conservation Foundation president Peter Garrett signed the ‘Kakadu Charter’, calling for ecologically sustainable development of a viable economy without mining and for recognition of the primary decision‐making role of Traditional Owners.

Media release from The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation: GAC media 13Jan19

Image courtesy of ABC News, 105.7 ABC Darwin: Emilia Terzon

Peter Garrett announced as official ambassador for Stop Adani

Peter Garrett announced as official ambassador for Stop Adani

Today I am becoming an official ambassador for #stopadani. For me, stopping the grotesque Adani mine is the key environmental campaign of this year. We need to give the Great Barrier Reef a fighting chance, and carve out a cleaner, renewable energy future for Australia. This dud project has warts all over it, as more and more people are coming to understand. Sanity must prevail and this is the year to chart a new planet friendly course for our country.

Peter Garrett announced as special guest for Spinifex Gum: Live In Concert

Peter Garrett announced as special guest for Spinifex Gum: Live In Concert

Peter Garrett has today been announced as a special guest artist at Spinifex Gum’s live shows in Melbourne and Adelaide this March.

SUN 11 MAR Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University Clayton campus, Melbourne. Tickets are available HERE.
TUE 13 MAR Adelaide Festival. Tickets are available HERE.

The Spinifex Gum journey has evolved to include transcendent live performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre as part of the Adelaide Festival and at Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Clayton campus, Melbourne in March 2018.

Blending the lush choral vocals and exuberant energy of Marilya – together with performances by Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill, Spinifex Gum are now excited to announce special guest artists Peter Garrett, Briggs, Emma Donovan and Christine Anu at all Australian shows in Adelaide and Melbourne in March.

Spinifex Gum is a distinctly Australian experience. It is equal part provocative and uplifting, and intended to inspire national dialogue through music. At the heart of the production is the ensemble Marliya – made up of current and former singers of the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir, led by their Artistic Director, Lyn Williams (OAM).

Assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, Australia Council and Ryan Cooper Family Foundation these stirring, joyous and thrilling concerts will be performed over 2 nights.

The Spinifex Gum journey started for Felix Riebl in 2014, while he was in the studio recording with The Cat Empire. Lyn Williams (OAM) contacted Felix and asked whether he would like to go to the Pilbara and write music for The Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir (members would go on to form Marliya).

Felix, and long-time friend and collaborator The Cat Empire’s Ollie McGill (engineer, arranger, and co-producer) along with Marliya were inspired to tell contemporary stories of this remote part of Australia, and developed a distinct production technique for the album. Felix cites “we tried to invert what a choir traditionally does, and most of all make music that would be exciting for those amazing teenagers to sing.”

The songs of Spinifex Gum are powerful in content and style. Expect to witness moving performances from Briggs who raps about the disproportionate detention of Indigenous youths in Locked Up, Peter Garrett’s live rendition of Malungungu about a suicidal FIFO worker, and Emma Donovan’s Gospel Yindibarndi rendition of Tom Waits’ Make it Rain.

Peter Garrett says today “I’m excited to be a part of this groundbreaking collaboration. The songs are terrific; heartfelt and full of meaning. The Spinifex Gum project evokes and portrays experiences and issues confronting people living in a distant part of Australia in a poignant and hard hitting way. We need music and words like this.”

Spinifex Gum is a project that reaches across the country. Its lyrics are a combination of English and Yindjibarndi, its stories emerged from the Pilbara, and its choir of Aboriginal and Torres Strait teenagers hails from North Queensland.

VIDEO: Click here to watch ‘Malungungu’ featuring Peter Garrett and Marliya

Album ‘Spinifex Gum’ OUT NOW


Peter Garrett will be at The Piano: Centre for Music and the Arts in Christchurch on Sunday 10 September as part of WORD Christchurch ‘Shifting Points of View’ series to talk about his book Big Blue Sky and sign copies afterwards. Limited tickets available:

Midnight Oil announce ‘The Great Circle 2017’ World Tour

SYDNEY, Australia. Feb 17. 2017. 9:45am AEDT.

Legendary Australian rock band and agitators Midnight Oil today announced their first World Tour in over two decades. They also unveiled plans to release three archival box sets including a collection called “The Overflow Tank” which will contain more than 14 hours of previously unreleased and rare material.

“The Great Circle 2017” World Tour will see the group’s classic line-up literally circle around our overheating planet for 6 months, starting and ending with gigs in Sydney. Appropriately for a band forged in their hometown’s sweat-drenched beer barns, the tour will begin in mid-April with an intimate local pub gig (details to be announced closer to the date). Midnight Oil will then hone their live show with over 30 gigs around the world during the northern summer, playing iconic venues from Sao Paulo’s Espaço das Americas and the Wiltern in L.A. to London’s Hammersmith Apollo and The Olympia in Paris. They will share festival stages with artists like Arcade Fire, Sting and The Pixies and finally return to New Zealand after 20 years.

This long-awaited World Tour will climax with 18 special homecoming concerts through October and November, 2017. Given the band’s deep connections with central Australia the local leg will kick off in Alice Springs and Darwin before starting to circle their homeland with a show in the rainforest near Cairns. Over the following five weeks the tour will loop clockwise around the country in mainly outdoor venues including Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley, Victoria’s Hanging Rock and Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Brisbane’s Riverstage and the Village Green beside Adelaide Oval before “The Great Circle” finally comes to a close right back where it all began; with a final show in Sydney on November 11 at that traditional home of Australian political activism, The Domain.

These will be Midnight Oil’s only shows in the last 15 years apart from two stadium benefit concerts (and their related small warmup gigs); “Waveaid” at the Sydney Cricket Ground (2005) and “Sound Relief” at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (2009). It will also be the group’s most extensive world tour since their classic late 80’s/early 90’s albums like “Diesel & Dust”, “Blue Sky Mining” and “Earth & Sun & Moon” sold over 10 million copies around the globe.

The diverse spread of Special Guests who have signed up to be part of this unique tour reflect the long shadow that Midnight Oil has cast across the musical landscape. They include significant Australian voices such as John Butler Trio, AB Original, Adalita, Apakatjah, Bad/Dreems, Birds Of Tokyo, David Bridie, Ash Grunwald, Irrunytju Band, Jack River, Jedediah, The Jezebels, The Living End, Abbe May, Something For Kate, Spiderbait, Dan Sultan, Urthboy, and Frank Yamma.

People who sign up to Midnight Oil’s mailing list at in the next few days will get first access to Australian tickets in a special pre-sale on Thursday February 23rd alongside Frontier Touring Members. Remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public on Monday February 27th.

All dates, venues, line-ups and ticket information are listed below (digital version here). Exact on sale times are deliberately being staggered from show to show to reduce website congestion so fans should pay very careful attention to all the details at . Extensive anti-scalping measures are being taken around this tour so fans are formally advised to only buy tickets from the official ticket agencies listed on the band’s website to avoid possible fraud and needless overpayment via so called “reselling” sites.

“The Great Circle 2017” will be promoted in Australia by iconic locally owned rock promoter, Frontier Touring with the support of the band’s record company of nearly 40 years, Sony Music. The national Triple M Network and Foxtel’s MAX will proudly present all dates with some shows also having local presenting radio partners (see info below).  Both Triple M and MAX will unveil exclusive Midnight Oil programming over coming days.

In a unique press conference on Sydney Harbour today this most Australian of bands also announced the impending release of a remastered CD box set called “The Full Tank” featuring all of their existing albums and EP’s plus a mammoth new 4 CD/8 DVD trove called “The Overflow Tank” which will include over 14 hours of previously unreleased and rare material. Both of these box sets will be housed in replica miniature water tanks like the one featured onstage at so many ‘Oils’ gigs. The band also unveiled their first ever complete Vinyl collection which will feature 11 remastered LP’s and two 12” EP’s all cut at Abbey Rd Studios in London. For full boxset track listings and content information visit The Boxset Collection is available for pre-order now, out May 5 through Sony Music.

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Australian culture knows the basics of Midnight Oil’s story. They are the incendiary post-punk band from Sydney’s northern beaches who shunned TV shows like Countdown, instead gigging endlessly and forging a fierce bond with their audience through jagged Ozrock classics like “Back On The Borderline”, “Bus To Bondi” and “Don’t Wanna Be The One”. They are the musical innovators who turned high tech anti-jingoistic polemic into hits like “Power & The Passion”, “U.S. Forces” and “When The Generals Talk”. They are the activists whose social justice campaigning includes “The Dead Heart”, “Redneck Wonderland”, “Beds Are Burning” and hijacking the 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony with their “Sorry” suits. They are the committed humanists and environmentalists who brought us anthems like “Blue Sky Mine”, “Forgotten Years” and “Say Your Prayers” plus a string of protests from the Tasmanian wilderness and the Jabiluka Uranium mine near Kakadu to mid-town Manhattan where they unforgettably stopped traffic outside the Exxon building after the Alaskan oil spill.

Their music makes you feel. Their lyrics make you think. And the combined impact live onstage is nothing less than a call to action.

In a dangerously warming world of Hanson, Trump, Petry and Le Pen the voice of Midnight Oil clearly takes on renewed relevance; they have always been a band that both reflects and shapes “the temper of the times”. So while clarion calls like “it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees” may have been intended for earlier eras they resonate more than ever in these days of ‘alternative facts’.

In keeping with the band’s longstanding commitments, their carbon footprint during “The Great Circle” World Tour will, of course, be fully offset and sustainability initiatives will be undertaken at all shows. Midnight Oil will also continue their collaborations with local and international environmental organisations including Greenpeace, supporting their campaigns on crucial issues like dangerous climate change and the imminent threats to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

At one level “The Great Circle 2017” simply reflects the geographic reality that the tour will loop around the world and then circle Australia. At another level the name clearly implies the planet itself but it has a further meaning too. Sailors, and airmen use “the great circle” to navigate the globe because on a sphere the shortest distance between two points is not usually a straight line. How appropriate for a group who has always been deeply engaged with the world around them but whose career path has never been linear.

Midnight Oil is more than just a rock ‘n’ roll band. In 2017 they will finally bring things back to where they all began. The circle remains unbroken.

For further information including full list of tour dates visit


PETER GARRETT & KEV CARMODY: Twilight at the Zoos treats Sydney & Melbourne music fans with two greats sharing the same stage for the first time!

Both Peter Garrett and Kev Carmody have spent decades recording and performing songs which tap deeply into the Australian psyche. Until now the two have never shared the same stage but will later this month as they open the Twilight at Taronga series in Sydney on Friday January 27th and Melbourne Zoo Twilights on Saturday January 28th. Tickets are still available for these spectacular open air concert events but they won’t last long… grab them now from

After nearly 15 years away from the recording studio, Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett made a triumphant return in July 2016 with his debut solo album ‘A Version Of Now’ entering the national album charts at number 3 and earning an ARIA nomination. Described as “Aussie anthems with ripper, real words ringing in your ears” Stack Mag ‘… this was Peter Garrett as you’ve never hear him with songs of love, songs of home and sweet memories chafing against songs of relentless resistance with, as ever, a steely eye on a better future.‘ Check out the exclusive MAX documentary ‘Peter Garrett: A Version of Now (The Full Story)’ here.

Soon after the album was released Peter Garrett led The Alter Egos on a national sell out tour receiving great acclaim for their authentic engaging live sets. With Martin Rotsey from the Oils on guitar, Mark Wilson from Jet on bass, Peter Luscombe (Rockwiz, Paul Kelly, Black Sorrows) on drums, Abbe May on guitar and Rosa Morgan (Red Ghost) on keyboards the band deliver a potent mix of Garrett’s new tunes along with a few surprises.

Kev Carmody is one of Australia’s pre-eminent singer songwriters, a storyteller of Aboriginal and Irish heritage. Often referred to as the gentleman of music, he has blessed us with many a poignant tune including one of the most important Indigenous rights songs of all time, ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ penned with his great friend and long-time fan Paul Kelly. Renowned for his affable delivery and emotive performances Kev is equally at home on world stages as he is with youth and prison inmates, or at the many song writing and recording workshops he has shared with communities in Western NSW, NT and QLD.

In October 2015 Kev Carmody released ‘Recollections…Reflections… (A Journey)’ his first album in 12 years. The 4 CD set presented in deluxe packaging with a superb photo booklet features 40 songs – a collection of stories, written and collected over forty years – politically charged, driven by the history of his peoples’ struggles and set on the land he loves.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see Peter Garrett and The Alter Egos at the Taronga Twilight Series 2017 as he closes off his solo album cycle with his respected friend and peer Kev Carmody opening proceedings in the glorious grounds of Taronga Zoo Sydney and Melbourne.



Tickets from

Tickets from



Why the ALP must focus its policy on the environment

Why the ALP must focus its policy on the environment

29 October 2016

The JK McDougall Lecture to the Ararat Branch of the Australian Labor Party (edited version) by Peter Garrett.

‘Labor, the natural party of the environment.’

Politics in 2016 is shrinking; hollowing out and spiralling in weird directions that are hard to discern, especially through the din of the Internet echo chamber.

The government is beset from within by fractious elements, and from without by a rebellious Senate replete with cranks and bottom feeding minor parties.

A compelling narrative, the holy grail so beloved of political strategists, is absent. Issues that are pressing and once made headlines have all but disappeared from view.

That is certainly true of my love and former portfolio, the environment. Throughout the mid to late 1980’s, the environment consistently rated highly as an issue of concern for voters.

In the early 2000’s, with a long drought hammering the eastern states, climate change, or global warming as it was more commonly described, emerged as a leading issue, but by then environment had moved down the list of topics that agitated the electorate.

The irony here is that greenhouse gas emissions were heading off the graph, and, as charted in successive ‘State of the Environment’ reports, on most indices of environmental health Australia was going backwards.

The Howard government refused to accept that dangerous climate change would threaten Australia. For many conservatives it simply didn’t exist, despite significant and growing consensus from climate scientists.

One of the main motivations for me to come into Parliament in 2004 was the lack of action on what a Labor prime minister would later call “the great moral challenge of our generation”. Rudd’s subsequent retreat, along with the Green party’s refusal to support a scheme they believed was less than perfect, set climate change reform back several years but did not diminish its importance.

Eventually the Gillard government legislated for a price on carbon and the sky didn’t fall in. It was a genuinely historic moment, even if the eyes of the media were fixed at the time on more sensational diversions, like leadership tensions.

In the midst of the current craziness of the “alt right” – both here and abroad – I believe Labor now has a unique opportunity to cement its position as the “true party of protecting our natural environment” as Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler has put it.

Labor has always been the party of environmental reform. The Whitlam government blocked oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef, created the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and established the first national environmental protection legislation.

The Hawke government stopped the Franklin Dam, established Landcare, and secured protection of the Antarctic and Kakadu.

More recently, including during my time as environment minister, the Rudd/Gillard governments legislated a price on carbon pollution, established a world – class series of marine reserves and took the fight up to the Japanese over their sham whaling ‘science’ like never before; all the way to the International Court of Justice.

Today, with Labor again just a heartbeat away from government, I believe Federal Labor’s increasingly low primary vote could be arrested if it unequivocally put environment at the centre of its policy and political focus.

In a way this would be to simply make explicit what is usually the case, namely that steps to protect and conserve the environment mostly only happen via reforming Labor governments.

With few exceptions the Liberal/National parties rarely advance protection of the environment and in most instances are hostile to it. Witness their current attempts to significantly limit scrutiny of the environmental impacts of major projects.

Despite chasing power for two decades the Greens never quite live up to their own hype and expectation. They are not inherently more virtuous than any other political party, and certainly a lot less effective.

Incidentally I don’t harbour the same dislike of the Greens of some in the Labor party. After all, Green preferences are increasingly important to Labor’s electoral prospects, even if their primary vote seems to have peaked in 2010.

Yet when it comes to actually implementing policy that protects the environment, Labor has runs already on the board. We should celebrate and build on this record.

Climate change is the obvious game changer, as much an economic as an environment issue.

In one corner stand the dinosaur coal economies. Their ‘dark, satanic mills’ continuing to pump ever increasing volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, compromising national economies with the risk of stranded assets in the short term, and life on earth in the long term.

In the opposite corner stand the new low carbon economies, with revitalized manufacturing industries and increasing employment courtesy of a plethora of renewable and energy efficient technologies on the go.

I know which corner I would want my country to be in. And given two million renewable jobs were added to the world economy over a two-year period, and the estimated growth in global investment in renewables from around $400 billion today to $2.5 trillion by 2035, the date by which temperatures need to stabilize at no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, I know what corner Labor needs to stand in.

There’s a reason we are seeing more intense cyclones, the fate of the Great Barrier Reef hanging in the balance with recent severe coral bleaching, six years of continual drought in California costing billions, Pacific Island states leading the push to reduce emissions world wide. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, ‘It’s climate change stupid.’

As things stand, a reform minded federal Labor government could, with strong policies and political will, lead the effort to arrest this tidal wave of decline.

Scoffers beware. Consider that from the introduction of a price on carbon in 2011 Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, previously on an upward trajectory, were reduced by some 40,000 tonnes.

Partnering this success came hundreds of millions of dollars recycled into renewable initiatives and research. It was a scheme that worked – a small, perfect circle, albeit a small one.

For an all – too – brief period Labor’s scheme put paid to two insidious notions. The first that governments can’t get anything right, and, secondly, that the economic system would fall over if there was an impost on carbon pollution.

History records that Tony Abbott’s subsequent dismantling of a scheme he claimed would wreak unimaginable havoc on Australian communities – wiping the town of Whyalla ‘off the map’ for instance – was a successful political tactic for the Liberal/National coalition.

Yet Abbott was wrong on every count, as the economy chugged along and emissions began to taper.

Abbott put a wrecking ball through the new economy that was meeting the climate change challenge and the country was poorer for his success. National environment and climate policy have been in the doldrums ever since.

The crisis of faith in our institutions, including political parties, arises in part from the understandable view that the only reason these institutions exist is to channel and formalize the pursuit of power.

But this is selling the democratic experience short. It’s a kind of cynicism that disempowers those who might want to contribute, and it reduces any analysis of political action into a “what’s in it for him or her?” charade.

Furthermore such a mean spirited view flies in the face of history, the great teacher, which shows time and again that progressive governments, pushed by political activists, empowered by their citizens, supported by their members, are always needed to deliver the big changes.

It is on this question of empowerment, specifically for the Labor party, that I want to conclude.

In the run up to the 2016 election, a cross factional grouping, with support from many Labor branches, known as LEAN (the Labor Environment Action Network) actively sought to improve Labor’s policy in the area of renewable energy.

They organized, lobbied, discussed, worked with unions and the party leadership, and ultimately helped secure significant policy improvements of a fifty per cent Renewable Energy Target, and strong emission reduction targets in the national platform.

They recognized that for a party founded on the principle of fairness, failing to act on climate change was nothing less than a betrayal of history.

It is this capacity to organise, to have faith that imperfect institutions can make change, to recognise that real reform is hard work but that being a part of a political party enables that effort, that created this achievement.

What would a roadmap to a low carbon economy with a healthy environment look like?

Firstly, strong national leadership and strong environment laws to protect our natural treasures, and ensure healthy productive landscapes.

Secondly, substantial emissions reduction targets, a price on pollution and focused investment to accelerate the shift from coal to renewable energy.

Thirdly, a reconfigured tax system to encourage the move away from fossil fuels into renewables and energy efficiency.

Fourthly, coordinated long overdue national investment in infrastructure to make our cities healthier, easier places in which to live and work.

Finally, international cooperation and action on climate change, as a leader not a laggard, delivering real reductions on greenhouse pollution, aiming to exceed our promises under the recently signed Paris Agreement.

Many of these initiatives are already in policy. Many have their supporters both inside and outside Labor. A whole – of – party embrace gets them over the line.

Just played our last show in DC. This is too real, the stakes sky-high.Democrats must confront now & Oz policy makers pay close attention as 'The US edges closer to civil war' |

Good start for @AlboMP honouring promise to get serious on climate. But it’s only the beginning. Extreme weather happening, as predicted, on a staggering scale. Deep emissions cuts & rapid move to renewables with whole of govt response needed now. This is a #ClimateEmergency

Crystal clear. World’s senior diplomat lays it down. For us in Australia, after decades of deceit, all too familiar. ‘Fossil fuel firms ‘have humanity by the throat’, says UN head in blistering attack

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