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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Climate change = vote change

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Vote for action on climate change

I grew up in Joh country. Farmers voted National Party. No-one ever voted Green. Greenies were anyone who protected the environment and, to farmers, that was seen as a threat to their livelihood. 

It always seemed a bit strange to me that the people who were the most reliant on the environment were not its caretakers. Greenies were basically anyone who didn’t want to chop a tree down. They were hairy jobless hippies who chained themselves to trees. Trees were the enemy. They had to be taken down. 

There was still this colonial mindset that we were at war with nature, that we had to control and dominate our natural environment in order to survive. Take this region for example. Once upon a time this was forest. In the blink of an eye nearly 75,000 hectares of Big Scrub rainforest was cleared. There were tree species that can trace their lineage back 240 million years. In a very short time cedar-getters and farmers cleared 99 per cent of the forest. It seems like an unbelievable policy but in the government versus forest battle of the 1900s the government gave land grants to selectors on the proviso they cleared vegetation. Basically you got land free of charge if you knocked all the trees down. It was environmental genocide. 

Ironically such measures were promoted to create agriculture but in the long run, as we now know, the systematic deforestation of the globe is what threatens the security of food production because it has resulted in climate change. 

Agriculture suffers on a degraded planet. Our food bowls are at risk of becoming dry and dusty places incapable of producing global nourishment. Climate change is real. It causes changes in temperature, rainfall; causes climate extremes like heat waves; affects pests and diseases; and in the long run will negatively affect soil quality and how it performs. 

When will governments ditch the climate-destroying interests of big corporations and affect real change? That’s the question we should be asking our local members about their party allegiances and interests. With a state election in March and a federal election later this year, climate-change reform should be the primary platform of every party. After all if climate change makes the earth uninhabitable you are going to lose a lot of voters. 

Last week in NSW we had a landmark ruling for the environment. It kind of slipped by unnoticed, possibly because there is an election looming and the government doesn’t want to piss off their major campaign contributors. (In 2017–18 fossil-fuel companies donated $1,277,933 to the Labor, Liberal, and National parties. Up 32 per cent from the previous year.) 

Chief judge Brian Preston of the NSW Land and Environment Court handed down a judgment that confirmed a decision to refuse a new open-cut mine in the Hunter Valley. The reason? The judge acknowledged the proposed Rocky Hill mine’s contribution to climate change. He said: ‘The project’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to the total of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. The global total of GHG concentrations will affect the climate system and cause climate change impacts.’ 

At last. Coal is dead. We all know it. The coal companies know it. That’s why they’re upping campaign contributions. Every coal mine around the world should be closed and replaced with renewables. Major political parties shouldn’t be funded by climate-change-causing corporations. If you want to do something about climate change then it’s not going to be enough just to reduce your plastics, use biodegradable products and buy an electric car. You need to change how you vote. 

Australia’s major political parties are at odds with long-term human and planetary health and survival. So as we saw with CSG in our region, it’s time that we dropped this adversarial approach to environmental issues and realised that ‘greenies’ have more in common with protecting farming interests than the parties that originally sprang up to protect and champion them. 

Vote for action on climate change and protest against the major parties by not voting for them. Vote for someone who puts the environment first. Because in the end, they’re putting you first.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Never has a local vote carried such weight. It’s so obvious.
    The mining companies are literally ‘at war’ with the earth
    along with those who support them. It’s not a novel or a
    movie – it’s real. The Adanis’ of the world are everywhere.
    Our 2 major political systems see no problem in accepting
    ‘donations’ [blood money] from those who profit from gas,
    coal, water & fracking. Voting Green, Independent, GetUp
    etc., across the state it has to be.

    • Anyone intending to vote independent should be confident that that candidate is indeed independent. These days most so-called independents came up through right-wing parties and therefore send their preferences to the Nats or Libs. And more than a few are bankrolled by, or have a vested interest in, fossil fuels and overdevelopment.
      Do your homework very carefully before you vote for a dud “independent” who is only running to glean preferences for the National party. Don’t be made a fool of.

      • Parties and candidates can’t “give” preferences. Voters need to ignore How To Vote card recommendations and number candidates in their own order of preferences.
        It’s always voters who decide where preferences go.

  2. Renewable energy can, without causing any harm, support and resuscitate the environment and our economy, it is a multi-trillion dollar business. “If climate change was cancer, then renewable energy would be the cure.” Coal and unconventional gas extraction [fracking] irreversibly and permanently contaminates our groundwater, land, atmosphere and health.

    So why did PM Scott Morrison two years ago, when Treasurer, gleefully hold up a lump of coal in the Parliament of Australia and say to the opposition MP’s and Australia, “This is coal, don’t be afraid, it won’t hurt you.” The lacquered lump of coal [the fossil fuel lobbyists who probably gave it to him wouldn’t want their MP mates to get their hands dirty] was passed to Barnaby who almost burst apart with joy and happiness; he was the MP responsible for overseeing our Murray Darling river systems. That lump of black gold was then passed to other Liberal & National party MP’s who held it and displayed it with the same glee. Not satisfied with that they set up the “Monash Forum” to protect coal interests and to as best they can, stop the advancement of renewable energy.

    Former PM Malcolm Turnbull, no doubt, at the direction of the right wing conservatives who gave him the numbers to take the top job from Tony Abbott; loudly called on NSW and Victoria to withdraw their bans and or moratoriums on fracking gas and demanded that the two states open up their pristine land to the toxic gas-fields. The truth is, what was claimed was “a phony gas crisis.”

    Mandy I’m a city boy, but I too wonder why a lot of farmers are still so welded to any political party backed by the fossil fuel interest MPs who care more about coal and gas than farming.

    This in an era where almost all the reputable scientists from around the world tell us that Climate Change and Global Warming is capable of destroying plant earth in quick time. There is a group known as “Farmers for Climate Action” and they are educating farmers and city slickers like me about taking climate action.

    So I really like Mandy’s wise advice, “You need to change how you vote.” Let’s draw a line in the sand in 2019 and send the MP/Senator climate change deniers [at a state and federal level], back to civvy street and into the real world where climate change is actually being felt.

  3. Look for the candidate who you can trust and who can deliver. Don’t vote along party lines. It’s the individual who can make the difference. Asren Pugh, born and bred local, son of eco warrior Dailan, has to be our strongest candidate for this region in decades. Asren has always been a passionate local activist for both our community and the environment. He has spent years fighting for action on climate change and renewables. I can’t imagine a more genuine principled candidate. By spearheading LEAN for the Labor party, he will, if elected, be the candidate most able to open doors and be heard by the city centric state government. He’s our best chance to get some focus and action happening for the north coast. Check out the promises and funding he has already secured for us should the Labor party win the state election. It’s a no brainer.

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