Welcome to Australian politics: A mad environment

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(Message from Greenpeace to PM Scott Morrison outside Parliament House, Canberra (Screenshot via YouTube)

Welcome to Australia. One of the world’s fastest-growing asylums. When it comes to environmental protection policy, Australia is full of crazies, devoid of logical thought.

The Morrison Government 

Former PM Tony Abbott told a large audience at a recent climate change debate:

"What we can’t do is save the planet at the expense of our neighbour." 

He also opined that we "subcontract too much to experts". 

Abbott, a dedicated Catholic, must have somehow missed reading Pope Francis' 'Encyclical on the Environment', which moved environmental protection to the forefront and in which he wrote:

... all life depends on clean air and water, and a stable and reliable climate. As a chemist by background and with a team of scientists and an observatory at the Vatican, the Pope is clear that climate change is the greatest threat life our Earth has ever seen – and that it is caused by humans. And as a priest, he stands in protection and care for his flock, 1.2 billion Catholics world-wide, and for all God’s children, especially the poorest.

Nor is the Pope reaching new conclusions in calling for a moral and spiritual transformation in our connection to the Earth’s ecosystems. Caring for creation is as old as Genesis, as clear as the Sermon on the Mount, as transformative as Saint Francis

Add to the insanity mix, the Morrison Government's environment vote pitch which includes the following statement with the usual dollar carrot:

'Koalas in Southeast Queensland and northern NSW will be protected with a $6 million grant for Australia Zoo, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Queensland RSPCA.'

Exactly how these entities will protect wild koalas is unclear. What happens to the remaining koalas struggling to survive as their habitat is destroyed for growth and more growth is apparently of no concern.

The replacement Prime Minister, Scott Morrison (after Turnbull tossed Abbott and Morrison tossed Turnbull), is a Pentecostal Christian. This belief system poses a few problems for non-Pentecostals. Apparently, Armageddon is looming with only the "righteous" surviving the End Times — therefore, there's no need to worry about climate change. Given the environmental "policies" of this right-wing Government led by this devout Pentecostal Christian, it’s pretty clear that Morrison et al are doing their best to give Armageddon a good push along.

The PM himself has even brought coal into Parliament and proudly spruiked its virtue.

Righteous "relief" apparently can’t come fast enough.


Up to one million species face extinction due to human influence that has undermined the natural resources on which our very survival depends.

A bi-partisan history of lunacy

Unfortunately, there’s a history of lunacy in this country. In 2010, a scientific literacy survey of the Australian public, 'Science literacy in Australia', found about 30 per cent believed that humans and dinosaurs had coexisted on Earth. One third also thought it took one day to revolve around the Sun (which takes a year). It’s unclear whether any politicians were questioned in the study.

It’s equally unclear as to whether any of the current leaders actually read reports, peer-reviewed published research, or listen to the global scientific community.

A recently-leaked United Nations report indicates up to one million species face extinction due to human influence that has undermined the natural resources on which our very survival depends. The report indicates the accelerating loss of clean air, drinkable water, CO2 absorbing forests, pollinating insects, protein-rich fish and storm blocking mangroves – to name but a few of the dwindling services rendered by nature – pose no less a threat than climate change. Biodiversity loss and global warming are closely linked.

Undeterred by this report or any other reports demonstrating that Planet Earth is facing the sixth massive extinction, state premiers also share wards with the PM in the asylum.

Australia sits right in the midst of this extinction. Look no further than the dying Murray-Darling Basin, Adani and the opening of the Galilee Basin. Or the plan to burn native forests for energy, our polluted rivers, rapidly disappearing wildlife and ecosystem collapses.   

Unquestionably, one of the most damaging acts of madness is the support by both the Coalition and Labor for burning our forests in electric furnaces to generate power.

According to the Australian Forests and Climate Alliance, burning the forests generates more pollution per unit of energy than burning coal. It would also destroy hundreds of years of safely stored carbon as forests are clear-felled to the ground. Burning forests would see the loss of many other essential ecosystem services that forests provide.

What are the real costs of this destruction?  

Neither the state or Federal governments have balance sheets which place any value on our life support systems. Forests bring rain and absorb CO2, support rivers, wildlife, fresh air and healthy soils. No value is given to ecosystems and there are no estimates of the costs of the catastrophic economic losses as the ecosystems are destroyed.

One of the first acts on winning the 2019 NSW Election by Premier Gladys Berejiklian was to axe the Office of Environment and Heritage. NSW is now the only state without an environment department. Under her previous Government, Berejiklian passed regulations making protests illegal with protestors facing up to seven years imprisonment.

In Queensland, the planning laws are the equivalent of obfuscatory gibberish. There are so many strategies, regulations and guidelines, that they allow any developer and government to hide in a deep, dark, impenetrable hole. Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act is incapable of protecting a field mouse, let alone vulnerable and threatened wildlife. 

There’s no provision for compliance, monitoring, enforcement, no hotlines to report or stop illegal clearing. 

Here’s an example of what passes in Queensland as responsible governance. A senior Queensland Government minister adviser provided Australians for Animals Inc (AFA) with the process available for local communities wanting to report illegal clearing of koala habitat — something that happens often on weekends and after hours or, these days, in general.

After several hours on the phone to the optimistically named Department of Environment and Science, it transpires that this advice is incorrect and the only option for any reporting of illegalities is via a written complaint. One bureaucrat advised that any action resulting from a written complaint was likely to “take a long time”.

Calls to Canberra’s Department of Environment and Energy are likely to have similar results.

AFA attempted to make contact with the Threatened Species Scientific Committee Secretariat. No response. No one answers the phone. Eventually, a switchboard operator agreed to send a message to the Secretariat and advised the best course of action would be an email. An email with questions was duly sent. No response.

In NSW, as mentioned, there’s really no one to talk to about clearing – illegal or otherwise – since the Office of Environmental Heritage is being dismantled.

Did I forget Clive Palmer? He wants nuclear power and owns coal mines.

Pauline Hanson? Thinks climate change is a hoax because of "dinosaurs".

And the National Party? The Murray-Darling Basin disaster and ongoing support for mining.

The asylum is jam-packed full of crazies. These are the options for Australia's voting public in 2019.

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


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