Hypocrisy, Thy Colour is Brown

Bob Brown’s credibility should be considered as dirty as the brown coal he condemns as destroying the planet.

For too long his rhetoric, his headline grabbing claims and his extreme ideology have gone unexamined by much of the mainstream media.

Just a few weeks ago, immediately after the Christmas Island boat wreck which claimed more than 48 lives, Brown called for the resignation of a newspaper columnist who made the obvious conclusion that government policy had lured people to undertake the risky behaviour that ultimately cost them their lives.1

Perhaps Brown himself felt exposed and a touch guilty for his ‘let them all in’ policy that would see tens of thousands more put themselves at risk by jumping the United Nations refugee queue.

But Brown preaches from the pulpit of hypocrisy. Condemning the disastrous consequences of policies he agrees with is to be ‘lacking in human decency’ yet he never fails to try to score political points built around human misery and his own extreme agenda.

While the tragic Victorian bush fires of 2009 were still burning, Brown blamed global warming for the tragedy, conveniently ignoring the contribution his policy of locking up bush land, thus preventing the clearing of potential fuel, made.2 Such inaction, advocated by Brown, makes the inevitable bush fires burn hotter and longer, causing more damage and stretching fire fighting resources to the limit.

More recently, Brown has blamed coal miners for the deluge of rain and the floods that have devastated much of Queensland.3 Not too long ago he was blaming the same coal miners for a drought that Brown assured us would never end.4

Despite his public ‘climate change’ concerns, Brown maintains a high carbon footprint of his own. One 2007 newspaper report showed Brown had “one of the highest carbon footprints of federal MPs – double his environmental counterparts”.5

The pious Brown drives a Prius to demonstrate his environmental street cred despite the reputed manufacture and disposal costs of the vehicle rendering any carbon savings throughout its operational life as being merely symbolic.

After clocking up more than 60,000km annually as his gift to Gaia, Brown also avoided using the teleconference, preferring to take an astonishing 165 carbon spewing airline flights in only 12 months.6 That’s nearly a planet destroying flight every two days!

But it is Brown’s silence that also offers some clues to his political opportunism.

When, in 2003, immigration detainees sewed their lips together as a form of political protest, Brown condemned the Howard Government.7 Why then did he remain silent last week when this practice of self-harm was revived?

Could it have anything to do with his political alliance of convenience with Labor? If so, credibility must be a small price to pay in order to get closer to the levers of power.

Brown has also presented himself as the champion of campaign reform that would limit private donations to political parties. In claiming that “democracy is being eroded by money” 8, Brown was quoted as saying that “people do not make large donations to political parties without having in mind favour in return”.9

Less than a year later, his party accepted the largest ever individual donation in Australia’s political history!10 The mind boggles as just what will be expected of Brown’s Greens for their thirty pieces of silver in the form of $1.6 million.

But transparency with financial matters hasn’t always been Brown’s strongest suit. His emotive and disingenuous claim that he might be forced to declare bankruptcy as a result of legal bills resulted in a plethora of donations.11 However, when funds raised exceeded the amount of his accounts, Brown didn’t let up.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz detailed to the Senate how Brown issued a misleading press release that resulted in excess of $739,452 being raised to pay a $239,368 legal bill. It was only under intense questioning and the threat of accountability that Brown closed down the fundraising action.12

Examining Brown’s record is like a real-life political version of Animal Farm. In a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’, Brown demonstrates that no matter how often he claims that all animals are equal it is clear that he considers some political animals are more equal than others.

Unfortunately, the cataloguing of Brown opportunism and hypocrisy could go on and on.

Of course, to his disciples, Brown the Green crusader can do no wrong. Unfortunately for the rest of us, his band of green groupies will have the balance of power in the Senate from July this year.

1 Senator Bob Brown, ‘Letter: It’s Bolt who should resign’, Herald Sun, 17.12.10.

2 ABC News online, ‘More fires to come as climate change continues: Bob
Brown’, http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/08/2485420.htm, accessed

3 Senator Bob Brown, media release, ‘Coal barons should help pay for
catastrophes’, 16.1.11 and David Uren, ‘Coal barons must pay: Brown’,
Australian, 17.1.11.

4 Senator Brown, media release, ‘World climate change report “shocker”‘,

5 Sharri Markson, ‘Brown registers high carbon footprint’, Sunday Telegraph,

6 Sharri Markson, ‘Brown registers high carbon footprint’, Sunday Telegraph,

7 Mark Phillips, ‘Nauru hunger strikers ‘fading’’, Hobart Mercury, 16.12.03.

8 Editorial, Australian, 12.1.11.

9 Tony Harris, ‘One good turn deserves another, but is anyone keeping score?’, Australian Financial Review, 20.4.01.

10 Linda Smith, ‘Greens donor gives $1.6m’, Sunday Tasmanian, 9.1.11.

11 Rosslyn Beeby, ‘Brown faces bankruptcy and loss of Senate seat’, Canberra
, 9.6.09 and Tony Wright and Andrew Darby, ‘Legal bill may fell leader
of Greens’, Age, 9.6.09.

12 Senator the Hon Eric Abetz, Adjournment speech, Senate Hansard, 16.6.09.

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