Origin Energy has joined mining giant BHP in cutting ties with the Queensland Resources Council over the powerful lobby group’s advertising campaign attacking the Greens ahead of the upcoming state election.
“If the Greens hold the balance of power after this election, Queensland jobs will go! Don’t risk it,” said one of the advertisements. “Put your job first, vote Greens last.”
Origin, which runs power generation and gas drilling assets in the state, said the group’s campaign overstepped the “clear boundary” between policy and politics.
“We do not endorse this activity,” a company spokeswoman said. “Origin expressed concerns about the campaign directly to the Queensland Resources Council, and we have since communicated our decision to suspend our membership.”
The move comes after Australia’s biggest miner, BHP, said it had also suspended its membership of the group, effective immediately. BHP said it had, on several occasions, expressed its opposition to the advertising campaign and asked that it be withdrawn.
“Unfortunately this has not occurred,” the company said. “BHP has been left with no choice but to suspend its membership with immediate effect.”
The Queensland Resources Council, which is headed by former federal Liberal MP Ian Macfarlane, said it had launched the campaign because the Queensland Greens had made clear they were against new mining projects and were seeking to “put an end to the existing mining and gas industry”. It said the Greens wanted to terminate existing mine leases in the Galilee Basin and increase royalty taxes on resources by $50 billion, “which will destroy our industry’s viability and sustainability”.
Mining and energy companies in Australia have come under growing pressure in recent years over their memberships of industry groups which have advocated for policies said to be out of step with their own positions. At its last annual general meeting, one in three BHP investors backed a resolution calling for the company to suspend its membership of groups, including the Queensland Resources Council and the Minerals Council of Australia, over various policies surrounding the future of fossil fuels.
South32, another Queensland Resources Council member, said it had formally raised concerns with the group about the political campaign.
“We value the work that the QRC does to support the Queensland resource industry and broader community,” a spokesman said. “However, we do not support campaigns directed at individuals or political parties.”
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