Peak Oil And Terrorism  

Posted by Big Gav

Peak Oil got a mention in the New South Wales Upper House yesterday, in the context of a response by a member of the Australian Democrats to a proposed bill (search page for "chesterfield", about 1/3 of the way in) dealing with terrorism (thanks to Dave from Sydney Peak Oil for the tip). Somehow this creepy piece of police state stuff was originally part of the "Motor Accidents Compensation Further Amendment (Terrorism) Bill" (the trend towards saddling normal and necessary legislation with these totalitarian additions shows just how unworthy they are, though at least the new bill is accurately named).

Dr Chesterfield-Evans' address goes on for a while - followed up by that neanderthal throwback of the christian right, Fred Nile, who I had thought should be well retired by now. When he isn't harrassing gays he obviously spend a fair amount of time fretting about the terrorist menace.

The Australian Democrats do not support the Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Warrants) Bill. When speaking to the Motor Accidents Compensation Further Amendment (Terrorism) Bill on 3 December 2002, I said:

The Federal Government has said that we need education on how to recognise a terrorist. I say that we need education on how to recognise a decent foreign policy. If we strut about, slavishly following the United States of America and basically blockading, with the Australian Navy, a country half a world away that had been buying our wheat we will get a reaction. We will identify ourselves as a country that is totally committed to whatever the United States of America does with its foreign policy, and we will get a response of terrorism such as only the United States of America and Israel seem to illicit.

In essence, the problem is that we have a bad foreign policy. Fundamentally, terrorism is the method that people with less power employ to attack those who have more power. Terrorism is said to be indiscriminate, but that suggests that those who bomb cities are being discriminating. The idea that cities can be bombed without harming civilians because that was not the purpose of the raid—the target was a power plant or a bridge—is fundamentally absurd and arbitrary. It is about the methods used in what is, effectively, a war.

Yesterday crossbench members received a briefing about peak oil. This is the idea that the world's supply of oil will peak sometime between 2007 and 2013, and that is as much oil as we will ever have. Our reliance on oil is increasing. The policies of this Government do nothing to identify and provide alternative fuels, and we will continue to experience problems as we build motorways instead of rail infrastructure in our cities. So the peak oil concept is important. It may be that the neo-conservatives in the United States of America are shoring up the supply of Iraqi oil, no matter what happens. That is one explanation for the rise of the neo-conservative philosophy.

Matthew Simmons, who wrote a book about Saudi Arabian oil, apparently briefed Dick Cheney, a former chief executive of the Halliburton oil services company, that Saudi drilling techniques—water and carbon dioxide is pumped into a well to push out the oil when the well begins to dry up—could cause a fall in oil production. If Matthew Simmons is correct, the world's oil supply will soon decline more quickly than ever before. So the neo-conservatives were shoring up America's oil supply through the Iraq raid, and discussions about Islam, terrorism and the appalling reign of Saddam Hussein are merely a smokescreen for that imperative.

Be that as it may, Australia has followed America uncritically, antagonising those who once simply purchased our wheat. I believe we do not have a strategic interest in what happens in Iraq in the way that the Americans do—we are not geopolitical world players. Yet we have been following a foolish foreign policy that has put us at risk. Australia has adopted a policy based on revived American McCarthyism, and this bill is just another step down that path—as defined by the Howard Government and its pro-war policy.

Up in the Queensland, State Government MP Andrew McNamara is now chairing an oil task force that will report on the state's vulnerability to oil price spikes and falling reserves.

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