Our national myth is that of the stoical farmer battling the elements and never succumbing. But the $1 billion plus in drought relief granted over the last few years is an expensive means of sustaining an anachronism. Sometimes we have to be cruel to be kind, and that means refusing to pretend that if we can get marginal farms over this hump everything will return to normal. Instead of another round of drought relief, both the taxpayer and the marginal farmer âˆ’ not to mention the land itself âˆ’ would be better served by a one-off scheme to close down farms that are not viable in a drought-prone continent.
Green consumerism such as that advocated by Tim Flannery privatises responsibility for environmental decline, shifting blame from elected governments and industry onto the shoulders of individual citizens. The cause of climate change becomes the responsibility of "all of us", which, in effect, means nobody. It is obvious why a government that wants to do nothing finds such an approach appealing: it can pretend to be concerned while protecting powerful business interests.
In the last minutes of the 1997 Kyoto conference on climate change, Australia extracted a vital concession by insisting that countries be allowed to include emissions from land clearing in their greenhouse accounting. The Government knew that land clearing had declined sharply since the accepted base year of 1990, so even before the ink was dry, Australia's emissions had fallen by 5 to 10 per cent. The shift of government research funding from renewables to geosequestration and the recent interest in nuclear power suggest that the Government's strategy is to actively delay any moves to temper the growth of Australia's emission's for 20 years or more.
Community opposition to wind farms is heavily influenced by a network of anti-environmental activists, some with links to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. This helps to explain why apparently independent local opposition groups reproduce the same misinformation and distortions about wind power. The truth is that most wind farm opponents don't like the look of them and don't want them in their backyards. Fair enough (although you have to wonder whether they will like looking at a landscape devastated by climate change). But it would be better if these NIMBY concerns weren't overlaid with layers of distortion and factual error.
This paper outlines a radical new proposal to pay rebates to export industries adversely affected by greenhouse gas emission taxes thereby preserving the international competitiveness of energy-intensive exporters whilst maintaining the carbon price signal with the domestic economy. Implementation of the proposal would thus effectively remove the main argument used against the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, that of damage to our international competitiveness.
The Howard Government has made a mockery of the environment and heritage portfolio, turning it into little more than a pork-barrel buffet. But who would have thought that things would stoop to the level where the federal Environment Minister would use environment laws against the environment. This is precisely what occurred on Wednesday when the minister announced that he was using the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to block a wind-farm development at Bald Hills in Victoria's South Gippsland, supposedly on the grounds that the wind turbines would threaten the survival of the endangered orange-bellied parrot.
An analysis of the environmental assessment and approval (EAA) process under the five-year old EPBC Act and whether it is fulfilling its environmental objectives.
Chris McGrath Letter in response to discussion paper 81: Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act: A Five Year Assessment
A Macintosh and D Wilkinson Reply to the letter from Chris McGrath