Content warning climate disaster, WWII
Australia is a climate paradox, for it is rich in fossil fuels, yet exceptionally vulnerable to a changing climate, and this means that we have purchased our prosperity at terrible cost. Our political struggles to reconcile these facts have become a diamantine version of the more diffuse dilemma the world faces as it deals with the climate emergency. Perhaps as a result, the actions of our politics, citizens and corporations have embodied the best and worst of all climate actions.
The dilemma the nation faces in its relationship with fossil fuels is not new. From the earliest days of European settlement Australia has been a resource economy, and exploiting those resources has always entailed risk. Perhaps the closest parallel to our current dilemma occurred in 1938 when ‘Pig‐iron Bob’, as Robert Menzies became known, insisted on the export of iron to Japan, on the eve of World War II. Menzies, who was attorney‐general in a conservative government at the time, was affronted when trade unionists at Port Kembla refused to load ships with pig iron when they learned that the cargo was destined for Japan, where they feared it would be made into weapons. At the same time, other ships in Melbourne were loading iron bound for Nazi Germany, again with the Australian Government turning a blind eye to the weapons potential of the cargo.
Menzies accused the unionists of trying to dictate Australia’s foreign policy, and he forced them to load the ships with iron that, just a few years later, rained down on the Allied Forces in the form of bullets, artillery shells and torpedoes.
— The Climate Cure by Tim Flannery (Page 21)
pp. 21–22 of Chapter 1 ‘A History of Folly’
Targetting the Anzacky crowd, eh? Of all the obvious environmental catast since the very onset of invayzh… Which, fine, this book has its goals.