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January 11th 2013 print

James Falk

Christine Milne’s blood money

Greens leader Christine Milne doesn't like coal, the people who dig it up or the profits they make. So why doesn't she take up that moral megaphone of hers and renounce the portion of her salary drawn from that and other iniquitous industries?


One would think that accepting money from someone who earned that money through immoral activities would itself be immoral. But clearly this is not the case for those in the habit of lecturing others.


So when Senator Christine Milne, leader of the Greens at the Federal level, backs an activist disseminating false and misleading information because she believes the cause is just, we usually would assume that the immorality of mining overcomes all her other moral and legal concerns.

It would seem that way, given she endorses and shares on her Facebook timeline Bob Brown saying this:

[NASA climateer] James Hansen’s reasonable scientific assessment is that business-as-usual in coal mining is a high crime against humanity. But here in Australia in 2013, while Whitehaven’s mine will help cost us the Earth, it is Moylan’s actions that have excited outrage and may cost him his freedom.”

Equally, when Senator Milne equates intelligent scepticism on catastrophic global warming with being a tobacco promoter, it seems she feels tobacco is clearly wrong. Given her support for fellow Green Richard di Natale’s campaign to remove tobacco investments from the Future Fund, it would seem so.

And, of course, the consumption of hydrocarbons is of itself something to be condemned, since she is committed to a low-carbon economy.

Since all of the above is based on her public utterances and Senator Milne would agree with her own words, I have some questions for her:

Why, Senator, do you insist on accepting personal salary payments funded from the profits of Big Mining, Big Oil, and Big Tobacco? Why do you accept money taken from the consumers of those products?

Working on a senator’s base salary of $190,550 per year, my conservative estimate of the contribution made by mining, oil and tobacco industries to Senator Milne’s pay cheque is at least $28,000. That’s based on estimates of mining company tax, personal income taxes from mining employees, resources rent taxes, petrol and diesel excises, and tobacco excise. There are plenty of rough-and-ready numbers there, but the order of magnitude is defensible.

Notably missing are tobacco company taxes, oil company taxes, contributions to superannuation, returns to superannuation due to resource investments, and a range of other government revenue sources linked to these industries. Missing, too, is the personal income tax revenue from related industries, which is likely to be substantial.

The point of this is simple. If these activities are so wrong, so immoral that the campaign to put a stop to them justifies illegal activity, why Senator, are you funding your lifestyle with funds generated by them?

Surely the moral thing to do is payback that money to General Revenue. My figures are rough, and $28,000 is on the low side. But saving the world would be worth the sacrifice.

James Falk stood as the Liberal candidate for Balmain