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Meet Morrison’s new generation of retreads Volume 33 #13

September 5, 2018

Undervaluing Nature The new PM’s fetish for coal doesn’t augur well for federal government support for renewables, but there are even more disturbing signs that Nature is being undervalued – and undermined. As Hans Lovejoy reported last week, there has been a sharp decline in funding for north coast landcare projects since 2015. Landcare represents people’s ‘boots on the ground’, undertaking important projects in habitat restoration and revegetation, and through its volunteers saving state and federal governments a fortune in repair work. Brunswick Valley Landcare (brunswickvalleylandcare.org.au) has supported various other groups in repairing land and beachfront, and any funding loss threatens the viability of these smaller groups. BVL has been particularly strong on riparian repair over many years and among its valuable projects are the restoration of fish habitat in Marshalls Creek and the installation of nest boxes for owls. But it’s not just rivers and beachfronts that are being undervalued – it’s our native forests as well, the jewel in the northern rivers crown that has been defended by activists against commercial predation for the last forty years. Unfortunately that attitude of predation has been entrenched in NSW government departments. The North East Forest Alliance (nefa. org.au) has spoken out against this attitude for many years, and now reports that there are plans to clearfell forest areas along the eastern seaboard in coupes of 50ha to 80ha; compare that to the current legal limit of 0.25ha for clearfelling in northern NSW. This is proposed even when a review this year of NSW’s Regional Forest Agreements noted that ‘the majority of submitters would like the state to cease native forest logging on public land, indicating it damages biodiversity, environmental values and environmental services such as water, carbon capture and amenity, and provides a low economic return’. NEFA has also accused the NSW government of ‘fraudulently claiming a shortfall in high-quality logs available from state forests in northeast NSW’ to justify their wind-back of environmental protections and intention to log old-growth forest and rainforest. According to NEFAs Dailan Pugh the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) ‘turned an identified surplus of 37,000 cubic metres per annum of high quality sawlogs from state forests in northeast NSW over the next hundred years into a claimed deficit of 8,600 cubic metres per annum by simply excluding hardwood plantations from their calculations’. After a weekend of haze caused by dust being blown over the region from the drought-ridden west of the state it is unbelievable that governments are continuing to pursue environmentally damaging policies in relation to energy, water, and logging when they should be looking at long-term solutions to climate warming. What will it take for governments to wake up to the fact that the economy must be underpinned by a healthy natural environment? More droughts? More bushfires? More dead koalas by the roadside? What needs to happen now is not only immediate funding for disaster relief but also a long-term commitment to nature-rehabilitation projects, and education programs on the necessity of a low-carbon lifestyle, perhaps beginning in federal parliament. Otherwise there might not be a long term for us.

Aslan Shand & Michael McDonald News tips are welcome: editor@echo.net.au

The Byron Shire Echo Established 1986

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12 September 5, 2018 The Byron Shire Echo

So this is what Scott Morrison calls his new generation of leadership. It consists mainly of retreads from the previous ministry, with the absence of one of the very few the voters actually liked – Julie Bishop – and the resurrection of some we had thought we were well rid of. Stuart Robert was turfed for misusing his ministerial position to promote a mate’s business in China. Sussan Ley went after misusing her travel allowances to invest in her highly valuable property portfolio; now both are apparently considered models of integrity. And Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott have been exhumed to linger on the fringes of the tent as envoys – Joyce to pursue the vital task of rural pork barrelling and Abbott to tell the benighted natives to behave like good conservatives if they want to get on in his world. We assume that Morrison is not calling them envoys because he regards the rural and the Indigenous communities are foreign countries, although that would be the normal sense of the word. And given that Morrison says he cannot tell one end of a sheep from the other, and that his interest in Indigenous affairs is, at best, well concealed, perhaps the terminology is uncomfortably apt. But it is not clear what, if any, effect they will have that would be superior to the current well-resourced ministers, David Littleproud and Nigel Scullion respectively. And this is the essential weakness of Morrison’s makeover; a ministry top-heavy with lightweights already, now burdened with superfluous former rejects in a desperate effort at the quick fix. The most obvious examples are what have been described as the three key appointments

– right wingers promoted to attempt to plaster Band-Aids over the concerns of swinging voters who are increasingly deserting the Liberal brand. So we have Angus Taylor, not as the Energy Minister, but the Minister for Reducing Power Prices. As long as he can produce some bogged-up statistics before the next election, he will be seen to have succeeded in the job. Similarly, Alan Tudge is not the Minister for Cities, Infrastructure and Population, but the Minister for Congestion – in Sydney and Melbourne, where the marginals are. And

company, will be in charge of making sure it is not mentioned in the party room. This will not be hard, as few if any moderates will be game to mouth the terrible phrase. And this is the atmosphere in which Morrison reckons he can heal the wounds and restore unity – although many of his members were not even elected when the word had any meaning within the party room. At least he can say, with some conviction, that he is safe until the next election; Dutton has been put back under his damp stone, and will have to

However, the real trouble will come, as always, from Abbott and his willing cat’s paw, Dutton. by Mungo MacCallum Dan Tehan’s principal qualification as Education Minister is that he is a Catholic, and so can be relied on to shovel barrow loads of money to his insatiable co-religionists. None of these short-term panaceas has much to do with national policy, let alone a proper vision for the future, but none of them is meant to; this is all about filling in the potholes, or rather pretending to fill them in – even on their own terms they are unlikely to produce much in the way of outcomes within the next six months. And the big problems have simply been pushed aside. Climate change is now deemed to be effectively non-existent: it apparently has nothing at all to do with energy policy and has been relegated to the last position in the cabinet, where the all but unknown Melissa Price, a former lawyer for a mining

plot quietly until his next rebellion. He and his hopelessly incompetent backers – it is now clear that most if not all of them were either fools or liars or both – are still convinced that he is the saviour who can restore their base. A quick reality check reveals that the most recent polling showed just six per cent of the electorate wanted Dutton as Liberal leader. When the sample was broken down by party support, the figure fell even lower – just five per cent of Liberal voters wanted him. How base can you get? But then, the mad right has never been big on reality. The Abbottistas and their cabal never have and never will acknowledge the fact that the majority of Australians are not ideologues and prefer to reside in the political mainstream. Typical of the fringe is the attempt to ramp up

(in The Australian, of course) a reprise of the culture wars – we seem doomed to another battle over what the right calls free speech and the rest of us call avoiding abuse, harassment, insult and denigration. And very few of us regard it as a pressing concern; if Barnaby Joyce thinks the bunch in the public bar are uninterested in the political chaos of the last fortnight, he can try asking how concerned they are with section 18c of the federal Racial Discrimination Act. But derisory as the right support is in the real world, it is paramount in Morrison’s cabinet – paramount, but far from unified. The chief generals of the centre, Turnbull and Julie Bishop, have gone but Marise Payne, Simon Birmingham and Christopher Pyne are there to fight rearguard actions. However, the real trouble will come, as always, from Abbott and his willing cat’s paw, Dutton. They and their fellow insurgents have never forgiven Morrison’s collaboration with Turnbull – he presents as one of the right, but from their paranoid perspective, he cannot really be trusted. And perhaps they have a point; the new prime minister is less ScoMo than ProMo, the former PR man for the tourist industry transformed into the Liberal apparatchik within the New South Wales branch, notorious as a nest of moderates. He tried hard to fit in – when they were commissioned, he presented them all with Australian-flag lapel pins, perhaps to help them if they have to ask waiters ‘Do you know who I am?’ But some of the more suspicious noted that Morrison himself did not always wear one, despite his patriotic assertions. He is still on probation. It is not over yet.

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The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 33.13 – September 5, 2018  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.

The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 33.13 – September 5, 2018  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.