Disingenious Environmental Policy Class 101 - 16 April 2007

Submitted by Webmaster on Sat, 28/04/2007 - 10:14

The media coverage of global warming has become a roar that even climate change recalcitrants like the Prime Minister cannot ignore. Yet my experience with the Federal Government is such that I long ago lost faith in them. I previously thought that two people or organisations could look at the facts and come up with different conclusions and this explained the difference between their positions. Such differences in position would be honest and honourable. However after talking to some very senior members of the government, I no longer feel that this is the case with the federal government's position. It has simply been ignoring any inconvenient facts and has been acting for the short term interests of parties close to the government and not toward the a sustainable future for the Australian public. Let me explain how I came to this conclusion.When dealing with matters of environmental sustainability, the approach of the federal government is quite bizarre. During a meeting, a senior bureaucrat from the Department of Environment once assured me that he has never seen a project that he can't approve. When several thousand projects have been assessed and only a fraction of a percent of these projects have been rejected, it raises the question of whether the law for environmental sustainability is an effective law or just a smokescreen for politically correct ecocide. In north Queensland, to save the cassowary, our rivers or the occasional wilderness landscape, it will be necessary to reject some projects. If we do not do this then all we will have achieved is politically correct ecocide.The government's flexible (or sneaky) approach to environment protection and global warming makes it very difficult to see whether they are actually doing what the say they are doing in their policies. I keep thinking of the huge amount of effort both in industry and the conservation sector that goes into trying to understand the Federal government's position. The government defends their system by saying that having great flexibility allows them to achieve good outcomes. Does this mean that instead of saying no to a development (which often results in court challenges and defeat), they avoid trouble by subtly saying no via setting difficult conditions for the project to meet? Perhaps they just do what they can to protect the environment with breaking an unwritten rule that viability of projects must be also be protected. Surely the purpose of environmental regulation is prevent bad projects from going ahead and if this is not happening, then the environmental law is not a real law. It would only be a political smokescreen that serves to keep members of the community writing useless submissions to the government and off the streets and out of the media. The reverse also happens, as some necessary or environmentally desirable infrastructure projects (eg. wind farms) get held up for lengthy periods for what seem to be political reasons. To combat issues like environmental sustainability, global warming, we will need a much more enlightened and transparent approach. The current system will only breed distrust, and corruption/political influence on a grand scale, such has happened with wheat sales to Iraq. State level environmental legislation seems to be much more transparent to me and has my support. At the Federal level, sweeping political change is needed. Below: Global warming has dominated current affairs, business and scientific magazines over the last few months.

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