There can be little doubt that the Abbott government will go out of its way to undo protections for our environment, including handing approval processes for developments to the states in what will be called a great structural save by ‘streamlining’ processes. Already there is evidence of how conservative governments at state levels are slashing environmental protections and so-called ‘green tape’ for approval processes.
The conservative governments in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Northern Territory and Western Australia are doing what they can to increase development, dismantle opportunities for the expansion of renewable energy and reduce protections for the environment. Each state is actively lobbying to make sure mining, gas and property developments are more quickly approved with fewer environmental regulations. Queensland was first off the mark signing a deal with the Commonwealth on ‘streamlining’ environmental approval processes.
They know that if they wind things back far enough that Labor will end up backing the status quo when next in government.
We can be assured that the Abbott government will make sure that the quarry remains open but with as few regulations as possible getting in the way. There will be, undoubtedly, some questions about when the government will release its discussion paper on opening up the north of Australia to more development, agri-business and mining; including so-called special economic zones (as advocated by Gina Rinehart and the IPA and already being pushed by Barnaby Joyce as a serious issue to be considered). Abbott is doing whatever it can to make sure he sticks to his promise of cutting the price on carbon pollution.
It is definitely clear the next three years will be a significant test for our environment and our national response to the growing climate change emergency.
But in the next three years there will be plenty of opportunities for the green movement (which includes the climate movement) to renew and rebuild – to become reinvigorated with the capacity to oppose the very worst elements of Abbott’s environmental vandalism.
There will be challenges for existing environment organisations and networks to respond to the Abbott government’s attacks on the environment while working out ways of working more closely with each other. There have been examples like the Say Yes Australia campaign and the Southern Cross Climate Coalition or the Climate Action Network Australia (CANA). They provide strong examples of how different organisations and groups, concerned about climate change and the environment, can work together. In the case of the Say Yes Australia campaign and the Southern Cross Climate Coalition, these groups included organisations outside the environment movement like ACOSS and ACTU.
However there needs to be concerted efforts by environment groups and networks to work more closely together to achieve mutual objectives. There are many overlaps on a range of environment issues where there are the best immediate opportunities to work together. This will provide a stronger movement to lobby against the Abbott government’s attempt to weaken environment protections and roll back the climate change package negotiated by the Greens, Labor and independents in the last parliament. It will also enable the environment movement to have a more effective voice in future elections.
All of this will require environment groups and networks to
This can be seen as an excellent period for the environment movement to rebuild and renew through using grassroots campaigning methods alongside the tried and true methods of lobbying. But there needs to be a strategy to work more closely with the political parties that most represent their views.
Today is Blog Action Day, a day where the world’s bloggers unite to raise and discuss an issue of global significance in the hopes of sparking global discussions around that issue. This year, Blog Action Day is focussing on human rights. It’s definitely a worthy topic and one that everyone can relate to.
However when I started thinking about what to put together for this year’s Blog Action Day, I didn’t think about the many and varied human rights breaches occurring in other parts of the world, I thought about human rights abuses here in Australia.
For me it’s seriously disappointing that my country, Australia, being one of the foundation nations for today’s United Nations and a strong, fierce advocate for the Charter of Human Rights is seemingly doing nothing to lift up human rights. And in fact it seems like recent governments have done as much as they can to diminish human rights and Australia’s obligations under the Charter of Human Rights.
We only need to look around at how Australia continues to treat the original custodians and inhabitants. Little is done to enforce the human rights of Indigenous Australians despite regular embarrassments in international forums about our collective treatment of Indigenous Australians. They are the most disadvantaged group in Australia and yet we do little to recognise their rights or their position as the original inhabitants and custodians of our country – indeed our nation’s constitution does not even recognise them in it and allows for racially discriminatory laws to be made.
Our nation should be embarrassed about this. Unfortunately there are other examples.
One only needs to reflect on our national debate about asylum seekers and how we treat those seeking our protection. Rather than provide safe and secure means of seeking our protection, Australia has gone overboard by removing its mainland from the international migration zone and implementing policies that see asylum seekers detained in offshore facilities with no prospect of being let into Australia; denying human rights.
These are some very serious breaches of our obligations to human rights; something for which Australia used to fiercely fight. It’s also why so many people feel so bitterly disappointed in our governments; Australia used to fiercely fight for human rights.
It’s time every Australian stands up for human rights and keeps the pressure on our governments to respect the rights of every human. We can be a force for positive change in Australia by making our voices heard that we want the Australian government to respect and uphold human rights.
I know I’ll be making sure my voice is heard through my blog, my social media accounts and the work I do in the community so that Australia is a champion of human rights once again.
The new Tony Abbott-led government seems to be experiencing some rough turbulence despite the promises of being a steady, trustworthy government. Within days of coming to office the conservative government set about to ignore, and in some cases break, their promises.
The first week alone illustrated how poorly thought-out Abbott’s policies were and the centre piece, stopping the boats, is being blown apart by the Indonesians rightly questioning the wisdom of the policy and wishing to ensure Australia recognises their sovereignty. In fact recent discussions with Indonesia have indicated they have no interest in supporting the Coalition’s so-called policy for refugees seeking asylum by boarding questionable vessels. Yet instead of telling Australian media the truth about the nature of those discussions, our Foreign Minister chose to say discussions were fruitful – we only found out the truth because of Indonesian media outlets which led to our top diplomat to declare there was confusion among Indonesians about the ‘stopping the boats’ policy.
But to make sure that the government can make any claim it likes about stopping the boats, Scott Morrison declared it will not inform Australians of ‘boat arrivals’ because it apparently assists so-called people smugglers.
We see Malcolm Turnbull has suddenly seen the light on the National Broadband Network after being told to destroy it by Tony Abbott. It now appears that Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) is far superior to the Fibre to the Node (FTTN) version he had advocated only weeks ago. Indeed there was quite a lot of fanfare to accompany the announcement of the Liberals’ broadband network policy, which was quickly denounced as inadequate to keep pace with the burgeoning knowledge economy.
After jumping the gun on dismantling climate action, Greg Hunt has found himself only able to disband the Climate Commission, which has sprung up as the Climate Council. Greg Hunt then had to admit that he can’t instruct the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) from stopping to award grants to clean energy projects. Forced to admit that he’d have to introduce legislation to dismantle the climate action package, unless Labor capitulates, it looks unlikely the Coalition can keep another of its core promises.
Christopher Pyne has been caught out attempting to further cut funding to the nation’s higher education sector by announcing a review. Such a review was never mentioned during the campaign, indeed there were promises to the contrary. He has quickly retreated from this position after the sector and the National Tertiary Education Union were quick to point out the broken promise.
Even the new Treasurer has been caught out with the lies about the budget emergency. Now that they are in control of the money, there is apparently no budget emergency and the urgency of returning to a budget surplus has been thrown out the window. It would appear that there was a lot of hyperbole around the economy. It seems the mantra now is that the Liberals is making the economy strong – despite the fact they inherited a strong economy.
We have the shiny, new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, already going back on his words to Indigenous Australians. He promised to spend his first week as Prime Minister with the Yolgnu people in their own lands. But as is the case with Tony Abbott and his cohort, this was just another empty promise, never to be fulfilled.
So within the first few weeks of the new government we are already seeing how quickly promises are being broken. More remarkable though is how Tony Abbott’s style as PM is a lot like that of Kevin Rudd’s, but that’s a topic for another post.
I wonder when we will start hearing the regular chant of “liar” directed at the Coalition. I also wonder when it will be that some commentators begin to question the plan that’s being rolled out by Tony Abbott and company.