Australian Environment Foundation

Australian Environment Foundation

Background

The Australian Environment Foundation (AEF) is a charity founded in 2005 which, according to its website, “is a different kind of environment group” that “seeks to protect the environment, while preserving the rule of law, property rights, and the freedom of the individual.” 

The AEF was established by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) after the “Eureka Forum“ meeting of December 2004. The meeting was to discuss “environmental fundamentalism” which, a flyer said, was “denying farmers, foresters, fishermen, prospectors, miners, beekeepers, 4WD enthusiasts and others access rights, property rights, water rights.”

Founding directors included then IPA executive director Mike Nahan and IPA researcher and climate science denier Jennifer Marohasy.  The registered business address was the offices of the IPA, although the charity is now registered at a private residence and the IPA and the AEF have both claimed there are no links between the two groups.

The AEF was regarded by some environmentalists as a “front group”, due to its links with industries including forestry, irrigation and GM foods through shared personnel and conference sponsorships. The group's activities are restricted to public advocacy and campaigning.

The AEF has taken positions that support logging, GM crops and large-scale agricultural irrigation, while promoting climate science denial and attacks on wind power.

High-profile television personality and gardening presenter Don Burke was a director and chairman of the group between 2005 and 2008.

The group also hosted the now defunct Australian Climate Science Coalition - a climate science denial group that received AU$107,000 via the International Climate Science Coalition in 2009 and 2010. The funds made up the bulk of the AEF's income at that time.

After a period of more than 18 months with very little activity, in May 2018 the AEF announced that former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott would deliver a speech to the group the following month. Directors of the AEF include controversial marine scientist Dr Peter Ridd and lobbyist and free trade advocate Alan Oxley.

Stance on Climate Change

The Australian Environment Foundation has consistently attacked the science of human-caused climate change.  Many of its more outspoken current and former directors, including Alan Moran, Jennifer Marohasy, the late Dr Bob Carter, and Dr Peter Ridd, have claimed that the evidence that climate chnage is caused by humans is unconvincing. 

The group's “Climate News” section links to a regular newsletter by AEF director Alan Moran, hosted at Moran's Regulation Economics website. 

Funding

The Australian Environment Foundation says it is a “membership” organisation with an annual subscription of $55.  In June 2016, the AEF declared to the Australian Charitities and Not-for-Profit Commission an income of AU$1,175  for the previous 12 months, suggesting the group had no more than about 20 members. 

In 2009 and 2010, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Environment Foundation received two grants worth AU$107,000 from the American Climate Science Coalition, an offshoot of the International Climate Science Coalition. The grants were for the operation of the Australian Climate Science Coalition, an AEF project.

Key People

According to website of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), the directors of the AEF are: 

Tom Bostock -  AEF chairman, lawyer and former Institute of Public Affairs director and member of the Lavoisier Group

Jeffrey Rae - former economist at ACIL Consulting and chief conomist at ITS Global

Tom Quirk - former director at the IPA

Dr Peter Ridd - former marine scientist at James Cook University

Max Rheese - former executive director of AEF and policy advisor to Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm

Alan Moran - former IPA researcher and economist, runs own consultancy Regulation Economics

Alan Oxley - lobbyist, managing director of ITS Global and chair of the APEC Study Centre

Joanna Hill - of Malvern, Victoria

Actions

July 3, 2018

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered the “2018 Bob Carter Commemorative Lecture” to the Australian Environment Foundation.  During the lecture, Abbott called for Australia to follow US President Donald Trump and withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. In his speech, Abbott said:

After all, the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from roughly 300 to 400 parts per million over the last century has not had dramatic consequences. Storms are not more severe; droughts are not more prolonged; floods are not greater; and fires are not more intense than a century ago – despite hyperventilating reportage and over-the-top claims from Green politicians.

Sea levels have hardly risen and temperatures are still below those of the medieval warm period. Over time, temperature change seems to correlate rather more with sun spot activity than with carbon dioxide levels. And even if carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring trace gas that’s necessary for life, really is the main climate change villain, Australia’s contribution to mankind’s emissions is scarcely more than one per cent. Of course, we should treat the planet with respect as it’s the only one we’ve got. But it would the height of folly to suppress living standards, to shrink industries and to drive jobs (and their emissions) offshore…for what was merely a moral gesture.

May 2018

The Australian Envrionment Foundation announced that former Prime Minister Tony Abbott would deliver the second Bob Carter Commemorative Lecture in July 2018.

May 2017

The Australian Environment Foundation joined several US-based climate science denial organisations, including the Heartland Institute, the CO2 Coalition, the Heritage Foundation and CFACT, in an open letter to President Donald Trump, supporting moves to pull the United States out of the United Nations Paris climate chnage agreement.

January 2017

The Australian Environment Foundation made a submission to an independent inquiry, commissioned by the government, into the future of the electricity sector.  Authored by AEF director Alan Moran, the submission claimed that renewable energy was too expensive, that they relied only on government subsidy, and that they would be unable to replace conventional fossil fuels because of coasts. 

November 2016

In memory of former Australian Environment Foundation director, the late Dr Bob Carter, Canada-based climate science denier Tim Ball delivered the first “Bob Carter Commemorative Lecture”.

Ball's lecture contained a series of misleading statements about climate change science, and included several attacks on climate scientist Professor Michael Mann. Ball said sunspots were likely causing global warming, and that climate chnage science was the “biggest deception in history.”  Ball said a large motivation for the science of climate change was to enable the United Nations and “leftists” to exert “total control” over the global energy supply.

October 2012

The Australian Environment Foundation held its sixth annual conference in Sydney.

October 2010

The Australian Environment Foundation held its annual conference in Brisbane.  The conference featured a speech by Senator Cory Bernardi.

January 2010

The Australian Environment Foundation hosted a speech from UK-based climate science denier Lord Christopher Monckton.

October 2009

The Australian Environment Foundation held its annual conference in Canberra.  The conference featured an opening address by then Liberal MP Dennis Jensen.

October 2008

The Australian Environment Foundation launches the Australian Climate Science Coalition. In a press release, the AEF said:

Members of the ACSC, like many scientists in Australia and overseas, encourage people to discuss, question and debate key climate change issues and, in particular ask: where is the evidence for dangerous humancaused global warming?

We do not believe that past and current climates are sufficiently well understood, nor even the best computer models adequate, to enable accurate predictions of future climate. There is a need to exchange scientific ideas and to encourage proper political and social debate on this intriguing subject,” said Dr John Nicol, Chairman of the ACSC. “We recognise that an understanding of the many processes that affect the weather and climate throughout the world could allow for large improvements in planning for the future, and this was one of the primary reasons that led to the creation of the ACSC,” said Dr Nicol.

October 2008

The Australian Environment Foundation held its annual conference in Canberra.

2008

The Australian Environment Foundation registered a website to accompany a “ListenToUs” campaign designed to encourage people to share memes on social media. The campaign website said:

Have you ever wondered why politicians don't listen to you?
We have, and we've decided that it's because they can't hear you and me over the noise generated by all the media, lobbyists, big business and special interest groups.
ListenToUs is an initiative of the Australian Environment Foundation. It's designed to be a megaphone to give a voice to the mainstream on environmental issues. Using the Internet we are going to make our politicians sit-up and listen.

October 2007

The Australian Envrionment Foundation held its second annual conference in Melbourne. Conference sponsors included Monsanto, fish farm Daintree Saltwater Barramundi, cotton grower Auscott Ltd, Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, and Murray Irrigation.

September 2006

The Australian Environment Foundation held its inaugural conference in Brisbane. 

The conference sponsors were Monsanto, fish farm Daintree Saltwater Barramundi, cotton grower Auscott Ltd, Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, and Murray Irrigation.

February 2005

The Australian Environment Foundation is formally registered, with its principal place of business and registered address declared as “The Institute of Public Affairs” in Melbourne. The addresses were changed in July of 2005 to the residential address of Gillian Hogendyk, who became AEF secretary in May 2005.

Founding directors of the AEF, as listed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission,  were:

  • IPA research fellow Jennifer Marohasy
  • IPA executive director Mike Nahan
  • Former politician and Labor environment minister Barry Cohen
  • Dairy farmer Leon Ashby
  • Kersten Gentle, state manager of Timber Communities Australia
  • Rita Bentley, of Glen Iris, Victoria
  • David Barton, of Matlock, Victoria

Related Organizations

Contact & Address

In June 2018, the Australian Envrionment Foundation's listed address and contact details were:

10 Rochester Road

Canterbury

VIC 3126

AUSTRALIA

Email: [email protected]

Contact phone number: 0408673975