Government sanctioned murder of Australia's natural habitat

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Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

What will it take to save Australia’s environment, our forests, wildlife, rivers and the natural drivers of survival?

It’s increasingly clear as NSW and Queensland towns run out of water, rivers are no longer flowing, forests are dying, that there’s a catastrophic national environmental crisis unfolding. The consequences will be disastrous. Yet state and Federal governments – led by what can only be described as irresponsible, ignorant, often corrupt politicians – continue to ignore the massive public and scientific concern.

Some years ago, in discussions with a senior Washington DC journalist, he shared the shocking reason behind inadequate legislative protection of the California gray whale. After much investigation, he believed it was because government predictions indicated that the Arctic would lose its ice cover as a result of climate change. This would then pave the way for the Arctic to be available for oil and gas drilling, shipping and massive development. So, what was the point of saving Gray whales or Arctic species dependent on a healthy marine ecosystem?

The same thing appears to be happening in this country. Australia was described as one of the first countries to be severely impacted by climate change as early as 2007, and earlier. Yet in spite of the growing continuation of major warnings from scientists and scientific institutions, governments are hell-bent on growth — at any cost.

Given that Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world and the complete failure of governments to address the exponential loss of ecosystem dependent co-species, the money is on development. Whatever it takes — because Australian governments have become lackeys of big money.

The U.S.-inspired mantra along the lines of, If climate change is going to wipe out a significant number of species, why not expedite the process and start developing the habitats? has been adopted by both Coalition and Labor governments.

As the mainstream media continues to ignore the appalling plight of wildlife, it’s timely for Independent Australia to report on some of the tragedies. In Queensland, bats are dropping out of trees, dying from starvation as there are few blossoms on the dying trees. Ecologists have warned that bats are the canary in the coal mine as indicators of climate change. South East Queensland bats are dying from a mass starvation event. The ramifications of these significant losses will impact the critical role bats play in the ecosystem as primary pollinators. 

Ashley Fraser, a rescuer from Bats Queensland, summed up the suffering:

"All of our little flying foxes are pregnant at the moment and they'll soon start giving birth to their babies and because the parents are so malnourished, we can expect more orphans coming into care."

Koalas, too, are in the midst of breeding season. As the males struggle to find a mate through a maze of massive habitat loss, vehicle strike, dog attacks, logging and urbanisation, their numbers are being reduced daily. The losses are nothing short of catastrophic in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

Never mind that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) designated the koala as one of ten species to be the most severely impacted by climate change. No worries! Just requires more spin and dollops of taxpayer funds given to medicalise conservation. In other words, any project will do as long as habitat protection or climate change impacts are not involved.

Kangaroos are dying in their millions as the drought dries up food and watering holes.

ABC reports: 

'Ecologists say kangaroos have resorted to eating the stomachs and intestines of dead kangaroos in a desperate attempt to find plant matter, due to the drought.'

A journalist who drove to Lake Eyre in South Australia in July, published a compelling picture of a drive into drought, describing the environment as a ‘charnel house’.

Rivers are running dry in the Murray Darling Basin with enormous consequences.

In NSW, the State Government is hell-bent on wiping out the State’s native forests with re-mapping plans destined to open up old-growth forests and reserves. Only recently, Premier Gladys Berejiklian was caught out with her plans to sell off NSW Forestry.

Then there are the plans to burn the forests for bioelectricity.

A further example of the insanity of the Berejiklian Coalition is the massive push to develop Western Sydney, with plans for a population increase of a one million increase over the next 20 years.

A recently published report by the Water Services Association of Australia indicates that the urbanisation will place major pressure on the health of the South Creek catchment, as well as the wastewater and stormwater services in one of the hottest, driest and flattest parts of Greater Sydney. Yet the Government is pushing ahead with a juggernaut of destruction in the full knowledge that there’s no possibility of desalination plants. That there are no solutions.

These strenuous NSW Government efforts to increase the height of the Warragamba Dam by l4 metres to cater for floodplain developers are currently under review by a Parliamentary Committee. This is hotly opposed by the UN World Heritage Committee, scientists, environmental and community organisations.

A search of the report indicates no mention of forests and the fact that trees bring rain. Instead, the Association offers the Greater Sydney Commission's vision of Western Parkland City

... Abiding by the current Code of Practice for the Humane Destruction of Wombats in SA... baby wombats must be bludgeoned and decapitated; however, adult wombats are required to be shot between the ear and the eye.

The report instead indicates that as a result of the number of days above 35 degrees Celsius, the Parkland City will need to offer  

'... a "cool and green’" environment, attractive urban communities and appealing places to live, work and play.“  

In a breathtaking conclusion, the Association writes that 

'... water is essential to increase the urban tree canopy, maintain shaded, open and green spaces, and support water features in the landscape.'

Dams in the Macarthur area – the focus of this massive urbanisation project – are already low. Reports indicate seriously low levels.

Meantime, as if our wildlife is not suffering enough, the reports of two horrific acts of cruelty have shocked Australians. A teenager is charged with torturing and mowing down 20 kangaroos and joeys at Tura Beach on the NSW South Coast. He has been released on bail.

Coalition Senator James McGrath shared the image of a dead cockatoo caught in his roof rack alongside the caption, 'Car 1. Flock of cockatoos 0.'

In South Australia, an off duty police officer is shown on social and mainstream media laughing as he stoned a wombat to death. 

The Wombat Awareness Association information sheet makes horrific reading:

“Wombats are able to be slaughtered by landholders too however they must kill wombats abiding by the current Code of Practice for the Humane Destruction of Wombats in SA. This code is also outdated as baby wombats must be bludgeoned and decapitated however adult wombats are required to be shot between the ear and the eye.”

If media reports are to be believed, the Indigenous police officer is claiming native rights with no barriers to hunting. It’s unclear whether the officer has been or will be charged.

On top of the pile of dead wildlife and our devastated life support systems, is a Prime Minister who has demonstrated his utter contempt for the environment ad nauseam.

Perhaps he should listen to Mickey Ryan, Chair of the Bundjalung Elders Council, who says:

"Our wildlife is becoming vulnerable everywhere. We’re losing the soul of the country. What’s happening here is downright murder.“

You can follow Sue Arnold on Twitter @koalacrisis and Koala Crisis on Facebook here.

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