Author:Adam Lucas (University of Wollongong)
Paper short abstract:
This paper outlines the extent to which the fossil fuel industry in Australia has infiltrated government at multiple levels and continues to shape government policy concerning energy and infrastructure development. It argues that major structural reforms are required to turn this situation around.
Paper long abstract:
Drawing on recent work in STS, policy studies and political economy, this paper examines how the fossil fuel industry continues to exercise extraordinary financial and political clout in Australia, despite its demonstrable role in contributing to dangerous climate change and opposing the transition to sustainable forms of energy. The industry continues to shape tax and regulatory regimes in its favour, and to influence in significant ways major government and private sector investments in new infrastructure. Although its role in sowing doubt and confusion over the science of climate change is by now well-known and widely documented, what is less well-known is its preoccupation with infiltrating democratic governments by providing financial, logistical and personnel support to those political parties, governments and individuals most likely to serve its interests. This paper draws attention to literally dozens of individuals over the last decade who have moved seamlessly between positions in the fossil fuel and/or mining industries and senior positions in government, or vice versa, many of whom have taken up industry positions straight after leaving government. These individuals had, or acquired, detailed inside knowledge of public policy on issues which directly affect the future ability of those industries to maintain their market dominance, and which therefore provides a significant political and economic advantage to them. I argue that these activities demonstrate the fossil fuel industry's hostility to democratic governance and oversight, and that the current laws and guidelines which are supposed to regulate its behaviour on multiple fronts are completely inadequate.
The room where it happens: inclusion, exclusion and power in STS research and practice