Australia: with the flow and straight into a tidal wave

Whereas some billionaires (Sir Murdoch, this time you are not the only one I’m addressing) might feel happy with the program of Australia’s new Demolition government[1], more and more people seem to understand that there was more than promises (or threats) to Mr Abbott’s radical assault on our environment. The question is: where does it lead to?

So far things have been way too easy for the new government, mainly due to a complete abstinence of the ALP, which after the loss at the elections seems to have totally disappeared. Even busier with internal fights than before, their representatives apparently don’t care much about what is taking place. Wait and see is the strategy for the moment. Why not go with the flow, when it all seems so easy?
The jobless rate is dropping, investors are investing, and the Australian Dollar is on the rise. What better could we wish for?

Unfortunately, above trends are only part of the story and if one looks a bit closer, they will find that the current development probably won’t last too long. One of the main reasons for large investments in Australia is amoral behaviour. What Abbott and Co are playing with is unethical investment that brings big profits for a few at a high cost for nature and society. By further dismantling already weak environmental legislation, the Coalition government is attracting all sorts of investors who find good grounds to do in Australia what would be unwanted or even illegal in other countries. The planned East West Link in Melbourne is the best example for why quick approvals of questionable projects is against all rational, moral and legal ground and why corrupt and incompetent state governments shouldn’t be given too much autonomy, particularly if they don’t even understand to enforce applicable legislation.

While Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are meant to protect the environment from unjustified harm, in Australia they have ever since been seen as a bureaucratic burden for new developments. EIA is a tool that has emerged in the late 1960s as a reaction to a radical overexploitation of natural resources with the aim to assess possible “significant” and thus unwanted impacts on the environment by a planned development. The first EIA legislation has been introduced in the US in 1970 and similar laws are now standard in most countries, for several decades in Australia as well. However, I would argue that in Australia they have actually never been correctly implemented and been a farce for the bigger part. EIA legislation here is a mere alibi; assessments are done with a focus on approval of the planned development, not on a proper assessment and evaluation of possible impacts. Further decommissioning of EIA procedures by the Coalition government is simply proof of the lack of willingness to protect the environment. The only value of natural resources down-under is seen in exploiting and selling them. And of course, where a “one-stop-shop” manager is offering bargains, buyers will flock to in thousands. “Come on in folks, it’s clearance sale!”

However, playing with amoral behaviour is playing with fire. Even if the next border is far away and Australia well protected by vast water masses that separate us from our neighbours, climate change won’t be stopped by military power. Last week, bushfires have caused the loss of 208 houses in NSW and while they can’t be directly attributed to climate change, we all know that climate change will increase the risk of uncontrollable bushfires and other natural disasters. The consequences are obvious: besides of huge material losses, insurance costs will increase. In Europe, businesses and private household have seen sharp increases in insurance costs as a consequence of repeated flooding over the past few years, in some cases insurances even refuse to cover repeatedly affected buildings. It’s only a question of time until similar actions will be taken in Australia.
That’s not all, though. Technical adaptation to climate change will cause more economic burdens that affect poorer households comparatively more. And if that wouldn’t be enough, reading in-between the lines, we might find that after all our jobs are not as secure as might be expected, since a dropping jobless rate could have other explanations than a new wave of business development.

All in all, many are agreeing that the current situation is very unstable and unpredictable. Those who trust their feelings will remember that it’s usually very misleading to be floating with a strong current. Once we’ll find ourselves heading straight into the next tidal wave, it will unfortunately be too late to swim against the strong currents to find a way back out.


About blaubear

Born in 1973 in a small village in rural Switzerland and into a society largely dominated by cows (not only was the human population of one-hundred-and-forty outnumbered by them, but politics were driven by unreasonable subsidies for diary products) I was connected with nature from early age on. Observing nature on one hand and the deficiencies of a dysfunctional Swiss agricultural policy with farmers that had lost connection to the land that provided their income on the other, I soon started to question society and the meaning of life. Suffering also under a farcical public education I developed curiosity to discover on my own. That was how I soon learned that little of what I had been taught was true. Skepticism and interaction with people from for me new cultures fostered my interest for the world and eagerness to leave a life shaped by federalistic layman-ship. At the age of twenty-three I hit the road for the first time, an event that later translated into passion. Traveling between cultures has since become part of my life. At the age of thirty-three I finally realized my dream and did a degree in Environmental Engineering from which I graduated in 2009, only to leave Switzerland once more for my "real home" Spain. Unfortunately, the stay was a short one: a couple of months later I was offered a job in Southeast Asia, where I worked and also lived (with some interruptions, e.g. I live in Melbourne since late 2012) ever since. Having worked for a Japanese company earlier in my life, I soon felt captured again by Asian culture and thinking which makes a lovely contrast to my European heritage. My journey through different countries and cultures has taught me that regardless of how different our thinking and values are, no matter what approaches we take, we all can learn from each other. And if we are open enough to see the common instead of pointing out the differences, then we have a chance to live in harmony and peace: Life is all about integration, not exclusion! It's an old wisdom that "knowledge is power", as such I never get tired of being around new people, having interesting talks, and reading lots of good books. I hope that my blog can contribute to the conversation.
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4 Responses to Australia: with the flow and straight into a tidal wave

  1. Pingback: Could the Swiss „right to appeal for environmental organisations“ serve as a model instrument for true environmental protection in Australia and elsewhere? | Ideas for a greener environment, a fairer society and a future driven by sustainability

  2. Pingback: Extreme heat in Melbourne and how avoiding McDonalds can help enjoying good tennis at the Melbourne Open rather than talking about the weather | Ideas for a greener environment, a fairer society and a future driven by sustainability

  3. Pingback: East West Link, civil disobedience and the question of when it’s time we stand up against governmental crimes | Ideas for a greener environment, a fairer society and a future driven by sustainability

  4. Pingback: Of Abenomics and Abbottism. Or „man vs. environment”. | Ideas for a greener environment, a fairer society and a future driven by sustainability

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