I want to tell what the forests
I will have to speak
in a forgotten language
Still fuming after writing last week’s blog entry about the Labor Party in Australia giving short shift to their traditional allies, the environment movement, I wrote an article for the widely read Australian online political news journal, Crikey. This was published yesterday (Monday) and is posted beneath today’s photo shown below.
But first, for any American readers and others not familiar with the Australian system of voting, let me point out, in an overly simplistic way, a couple of things.
1. There is in Australia a system of voting that is “preferential”. Under this style of voting, the voter will vote for all the candidates on the ballot sheet by numbering them from “one” to “five” (if there are five candidates). If their first choice doesn’t have enough votes to win, then their vote goes to their second choice, etc. Back in 2000, if America had such a system, then Gore would have become president as the Ralph Nader vote would have eventually gone over to Gore (assuming that the Green vote “preferenced” Gore ahead of Bush).
2. Of the two major political parties, the present Liberal Party is similar to the Republican Party and very much aligned with the worst of the Bush policies. The Labor Party is somewhat similar to the Democrats, but is becoming increasingly more right wing. Scary.
It’s tough being in a minor political party like the Greens, but it is all the more tough when one feels that our views are being ignored at the expense of the health of the planet. Despite climate change coming off the back burner and now front and centre of a lot of debate, the people who for years have constantly led the debate—the environmental movement— are effectively being shunted aside by the major political parties who only see them as a threat to their power base rather than talented people who just might have some answers to the perplexing questions of how to address the myriad of problems presented by climate change.
Make no mistake about it. Although in the article below I talk about forestry issues, these same issues are intimately linked to the climate change debate. As far as I am concerned, neither major political party understands what is at stake. They just don’t get it. When the next federal election takes place and I have to decide on how to preference my votes, I will most certainly feel as though I’m between a rock and a hard spot as to what decision to make. It sucks.
A Green preference vote to the Liberal Party?
Since becoming an Australian citizen in 1996 I have exercised my right to vote ticking either the Green or Labor boxes and preferencing accordingly. Never did I give the Liberal candidates a second thought, nor imagine that I ever would. Now, though, with Rudd’s extremely regressive forest policy, this looks to be the year that the Liberal team gets preferenced ahead of Labor.
Being spit in the face by Rudd and Garrett would generally not be enough to force a change of thinking as the Labor Party traditionally has been more “liberal” in its platforms and more “voter friendly” than the Liberal Party. But, pride aside, and as unfathomable as it seems (even to myself), I’ve become increasingly scared that Rudd and his team will be more ruinous on Tasmania than Howard ever was.
All my philosophical arguments for world peace, social and environmental justice, and economic sanity, are based around the simple Thoreau dictum: “In wildness is the preservation of the world”. With a solid majority of the world’s climate scientists understanding this, with more and more economists and corporate leaders understanding this, with the public increasingly aware of the importance of the environment in the health and wealth generation of our local and global societies, and, with even the more conservative, Weekend Australian, publishing a long article on Tasmania titled: “Logging itself into oblivion”, it is astounding to have Rudd and the Federal Labor policy makers give the environment (hence, jobs) a total write off. To say that this is insulting to every progressive thinker in Australia is an understatement.
Yes, I am very well aware of the Liberal Party’s social and environmental policies and how mean spirited they have been for the past ten years. However, with Rudd at the helm of a team of anti-environmentalists headed by Julia Gillard, Michael O’Connor, Kerry O’Brien and Dick Adams in Canberra along with the mendacious CFMEU, Paul Lennon, Gunns and the pro-logging mob down in Tasmania, I fear the worst for those of us left down here trying to protect, not only our fast diminishing native forests and prime agricultural farmlands, but any semblance of what remains of ethical democracy. And it is this latter component—erosion of democracy—that I worry about most.
Michael O’Connor of the CFMEU (construction, forestry, mining and electrical union) is on Labor’s national executive and is best mate with Julia Gillard, Premier Lennon and Gunns’ John Gay. If Federal Labor teams up with State Labor and O’Connor’s “hate the Greenie” union, any hope of an economic renaissance in Tasmania based upon the brand of “clean, green and intelligent” will be bulldozed into oblivion. The further entrenchment of a Lennon style bad boy’s government will spell disaster for enlightened governance.
There is no questioning that Howard, along with Eric Abetz in Tasmania, has been a nightmare. But to vote Labor just because one wants to get rid of one form of cancer, will only serve to replace within the body politic a more aggressive form of cancer. This I can’t stomach.
Call it tough love, or whatever, but I would rather have four more years of the little sh_t Howard, than a possible ten years being dictated to and governed by a union whose understanding of democracy and global climate change is limited to something out of the brutal dark ages. To get my vote back, Labor has to either dump the CFMEU or bring in those leaders and policy makers who truly, truly understand the total importance of a healthy environment in the making of a wealthy, just society.
My advice to the follower of Christ, Peter Garrett (opposition minister for the environment): “Get out of the Labor Party while you still have half a chance of obtaining a pass at the pearly gates.”
My advice to Rudd and Gillard is to put fridge magnets everywhere with this quote from global explorer, Peter Matthiessen:
In the forgetting that we, too, are animals, a part of nature, as dependent on its health and balance as any other mammal, we foolishly permit the unrestrained industrial erosion and poisoning of our Earth habitat that promises to leave mankind as desolate and bereft of hope as a turtle stripped live from its shell.