Former PM in the deep end, cashing in on influence

Leaving parliament in late February, it seems Scott Morrison landed an adviser’s job for Seafloor Minerals Fund, a deep-sea mining venture capital business, set up to ‘support the strategic goals of AUKUS’. He is now also a defence consultant, no doubt sharing his national security knowledge with his new colleagues and lobbying away.

The Federal Ministerial Code of Conduct requires departing ministers to not, for 18 months after leaving office, lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of government, parliament, public service or defence force on any matters on which they have had official dealings as Minister in their last 18 months in office.

This is clearly not a problem for a prime minister who secretly took on other ministries and, you guessed it, the code is not enforceable!

And then there is the environment. Never one to stand up for the natural world, Scott Morrison is unlikely to be having qualms about the fact that deep-sea mining destroys natural landforms and the wildlife they host, compaction of the sea floor and creation of sediment plumes that disrupt aquatic life. Other impacts are noise, electromagnetic effects, disruption of the larval supply, contamination and fluid flow changes.

The World Resources Institute says

‘…… despite years of research, little is still known about the deep ocean. Many fear that extracting minerals from it could pose grave consequences for both marine life and planetary health.’

To date there has been no commercial deep-sea mining and many countries – Germany, the European Parliament and Canada – have called for moratoria. Not so Australia.

From Science Direct:

As terrestrial mineral deposits are either depleting or of low grade, minerals from the deep-sea like the polymetallic nodules, cobalt rich crusts and polymetallicsulfides are considered as alternative sources for metals such as Cu, Ni, Co, Mn, Fe, that could be exploited in future by developing suitable technologies for mining as well as extracting metals from them. 

As most of these deposits occur in the international waters, several ‘contractors’ have staked claims over large tracts of the seafloor in the international waters under the UN Law of the Sea. Simulated seafloor mining experiments have revealed significant information on the potential impacts that may occur as also several measures for conserving the environment have been suggested.

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