With the conservative agenda being to unwind environmental protections and regulations, it saddens me to have to create a list of “Places to see before they’re gone”. Instead of protecting Australia’s precious places and species we have governments demolishing environmental protections and regulations.
Soon Australia’s precious places and species will be gone. There are pressures from increased expansion in mining; the frightening growth in fracking for coal seam gas; increased development and expanding urban fringes; continued use of unsustainable agricultural practices; and of course climate change. And this is on top of the fact that Australia has the highest rate of species extinction in the world.
The problem though is that once they’re gone they can’t be replaced. They can’t be rehabilitated to their original glory or restored. They can’t be magically brought back. It looks like it won’t be long before we’re actually visiting museums that hold holographic displays of different flora and fauna, or even landscapes.
It deeply saddens and disturbs me that my country seems to have too little regard and appreciation for our environment.
Here’s my list of places to see before they’re gone and they aren’t arranged in any particular order.
1. Great Barrier Reef
2. The Tarkine
3. Kakadu National Park
4. James Price Point
5. Kangaroo Island
6. Franklin River
7. Cape York
8. Victorian Alpine region
9. The Kimberley
10. Cape Barren
This is not an exhaustive list of “Places to see before they’re gone” and I’d love to know what additional places you’d add to the list.
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.