FESTIVAL | The Coal Dead Hand

FoD-blockNEWorangeModern democracies have long been dependent upon carbon energy systems, but things are changing. Except, it seems, in Australia, where the coal industry is now a massive problem for our democracy. Greenpeace Australia Pacific and the Australia Institute have assembled a diverse group of panellists to stimulate a comprehensive debate addressing the role of the Australian coal industry: from its economic, political and health impacts to its implications on regional and community authority and social justice. We seek to underscore the extensive influence of the coal industry and propose alternatives for the future.

We invite the public, students, policy makers, and critical thinkers to contribute to an evening of a panel-led discussion about the relationship between coal mining and representative government in Australia. After short introductions from each of our panelists and a video message from Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, we will open the evening for questions and comments from audience members, moderated by our MC Jonathan Holmes.

Listen to the audio recording:






Greenpeace Australia Pacific is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent direct action to expose global environmental problems and to force solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace’s goal is to ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity.


36861 TAI Logo Design WFiiThe Australia Institute is the country’s most influential progressive think tank. Based in Canberra, it conducts research on a broad range of economic, social and environmental issues in order to inform public debate and bring greater accountability to the democratic process.



Jonathan HolmesJonathan Holmes has been a television journalist and documentary-maker for almost 45 years. Born and educated in Britain, he joined the BBC in 1969. During the 1970s he worked as a producer on programs like 24 Hours, Nationwide and Panorama.  In 1982 he was invited to Australia to become Executive Producer of the ABC’s Four Corners.  With the exception of a couple of two-year sojourns in the United States, he has lived and worked in Australia ever since. He became an Australian citizen in 1990.Jonathan has served as Head of ABC Documentaries, and as Executive Producer of the ABC programs Foreign Correspondent and The 7.30 Report.  As an on-camera reporter he has worked extensively for Foreign Correspondent and Four Corners, and was for 2 years one of the ABC’s Washington correspondents. For five years, from 2008, Jonathan presented the influential weekly television program Media Watch.  In July last year he retired from the ABC and is now a regular columnist on media matters for The Age and (occasionally) the Sydney Morning Herald.

Bill McKibbenBill McKibben is an author and environmentalist. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He is co-founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities; Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”

127pmanningPaddy Manning is a business reporter, focused on energy, food and agriculture. He is currently Crikey’s business editor and was formerly BusinessDay’s national chief of staff. He has worked for the Australian Financial Review and The Australian, and was founding editor of Ethical Investor magazine.


Richard DennissDr Richard Denniss is the Australia Institute’s Executive Director. Richard has worked for the past 20 years in a variety of policy and political roles. In recent years, he has been at the forefront of the national policy debates surrounding climate change policy and the Australian mining boom. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University. Prior to taking up his current position Richard was the Strategy Adviser to the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, was Chief of Staff to the then Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja. Richard has published extensively in academic journals, has a fortnightly column in The Canberra Times and Australian Financial Review and was the co-author of the best-selling Affluenza (with Dr Clive Hamilton) and An Introduction to Australian Public Policy: Theory and Practice (with Dr Sarah Maddison).

David McKnightDr David McKnight is an associate professor at the University of New South Wales where he researches media, politics and history. He is the co-author of Big Coal: Australia’s Dirtiest Habit, and author of Rupert Murdoch: An Investigation of Political Power, as well as Beyond Right and Left: New Politics and the Culture War, which won the Henry Mayer Book Prize. He co-edited Goodbye to All That? with Robert Manne on the implications of the global finance crisis.

Ruth ColigiuriAssociate Professor Ruth Colagiuri is an associate professor in the School of Public Health, having joined the Menzies Centre for Health Policy (formerly Australian Health Policy Institute) at The University of Sydney in June 2005 to establish and direct The Diabetes Unit – a focus for policies and strategies for improving diabetes prevention and care and to establish an Oxford Health Alliance presence in the Asia-Pacific Region. Prior to this, Ruth co-founded and directed the Australian Centre for Diabetes Strategies at the Prince of Wales Hospital, University of New South Wales. Previously, she managed the ambulatory care Diabetes Centre at the Prince of Wales Hospital, and worked as a Senior Policy Analyst in the NSW Health Department on diabetes as the prototype for a ‘health outcomes’ approach to chronic diseases.

John Krey_John Krey is the Vice President and spokesperson for the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association Inc. He lives with his wife Leslie at Bulga in the Hunter Valley on land owned since 2002. John has a professional background in Quantity Surveying, but pursued a career in project management, with the last 13 years of his working life managing projects at the University of Sydney. He has dedicated the past four years to leading the fight against the expansion of the Warkworth open cut mine which threatens Bulga.

GP047IU_pressDavid Ritter is CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. He returned to Australia to become CEO  in 2012 after five years with Greenpeace in London, where he campaigned on the global issues of destructive fishing, deforestation and climate change. Prior to joining Greenpeace, David worked as a lawyer practising in general litigation, resources law and native title, before spending a short stint as an academic teaching in law and history. David was acknowledged as one of Australia’s leading Indigenous rights lawyers and is the author of Contesting Native Title and The Native Title Market. A widely published commentator on politics, law, history and current affairs, David is an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Law of the University of Western Australia and an Associate of the Sydney Democracy Network at the University of Sydney.