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Byron Shire
July 15, 2024

No time for complacency – this is just the beginning

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While Hamas exists, Palestine will never be free

In response to David Heilpern’s article regarding antisemitism and Israel, (Echo, July 3) it is probably generally agreed that...

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Affordable housing key to Ballina Greens, Kiri Dicker’s, Mayoral campaign

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Electricity lines clipped and lines come down in Lismore

Police have confirmed that a truck clipped powerlines today on Dawson Street, Lismore. 

National NAIDOC Week – Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud & Proud

This year’s National NAIDOC Week theme honours the enduring strength and resilience of First Nations peoples and culture.

Celebrating NAIDOC Week in Byron Bay

Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to recognise the contributions Indigenous Australians make to our country and society.

Policy ambition, age and conservatives 

The sad state of conservative politics has again dominated the world stage this week, with the Tory wipeout in the UK, and a chaotic result in the French elections, reducing President Macron’s Centralist Alliance to 168 seats in the 577-seat parliament. 

Scott Morrison nursing his much-loved lump of coal. Photo Green Left

What a blessed relief! Are most of you, like me, still breathing a little more easily? The election has delivered ‘a seismic shift in Australia’s political landscape’. That’s the ABC’s way of describing it. My take is – ‘Ya beauty!’. The Coalition chain-dragging, deceit and corruption is over. The ‘climate wars’ are, if not at an end, then considerably subdued.

Mandy Nolan. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Yes, oh yes, I’m aware of the ALP’s commitments, its vacillations, and the fact that it takes money from dodgy industries. I’m sad too that Mandy Nolan didn’t get over the line. But hey, what an amazing campaign! She’ll be back, and I think we’ll see heaps more progressive women sweeping aside the patriarchal walls that have long divided Australian society and politics.

Historical moment

But this is only the beginning. Let’s see what the pro-climate action Independents and Greens can achieve. It’s one of those great historical moments when everything seems possible. Sure, the corporations will fight back, the conservative right and nationalists will regroup, and the ALP will be difficult to shift. And the wreckers are still at it; fossil fuel companies, supported by banks, are right now investing heavily in new mining projects. Governments too, despite their supposedly ‘green’ credentials, are still pushing the fossil fuel agenda.

It’s certainly no time to be complacent.

Crisis of legitimacy

The climate emergency and biodiversity loss have long occupied the public mind. However, the crisis of legitimacy pervading Australian politics has meant that successive governments have ignored the desires and aspirations of so-called ‘ordinary people’.

Survey after survey has told us that people have lost faith in liberal democracies, in political institutions, in politicians. They tell us too that the vast majority of Australians want action on environmental issues, on inequality, Indigenous rights, and on integrity and accountability in politics. For way too long Australia has been an international pariah when it comes to climate action, stuck in the pro-fossil fuel groove, with the right-wing tail wagging the Coalition dog.

It’s one of those great historical moments when everything seems possible.

Despite the sabotaging attempts by the Murdoch press, the awful gotcha ‘reporting’, the character assassinations, fearmongering, and constant elevation of the economy over everything else, progressive concerns have taken hold through the ballot box. There are some downsides of course: the Nationals increased their vote, as did One Nation in some quarters. But it was pleasing to see the UAP seatless as Clive Palmer’s sordid campaign came to nought.

New cabinet, outer ministry and assistant minister roles have gone to a record number of women. Photo ABC News, Matt Roberts

Consolidation needed

The task now, it seems to me, is to consolidate and expand; to build on what has been achieved by promoting a narrative of change that can embrace people who are fearful of such; and to deliver a coherent and tangible vision of a better society.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. None of this is going to be easy. We’ve all got different visions of the sort of society we’d like to see; and we’re aware of the entrenched power of corporations and compromised governments. We should not be naive enough to believe that the election is going to suddenly sweep in a progressive new order. That will only occur through the activism that has always achieved progressive change through social movements, organised labour and the willingness of citizens to act in concert on their complaints and grievances.

Take one area of success in this election – the push for climate action. The momentum for such has been built, over decades, by various environmental justice groups. Without them, we’d have unrestricted business-as-usual. But thanks to the global movements stoked by the likes of Greta Thunberg and millions of courageous schoolkids around the world, along with countless other activists who have given their hearts and souls to the cause of planetary survival, the case for climate action is irresistible.

The counter-currents of localised energy initiatives, clean energy investments and the push toward more regenerative forms of production and consumption (as highlighted in Damian Gameau’s excellent new documentary, Regenerating Australia) are gaining traction.

Our collective task on the progressive side of politics is to listen to the concerns of those impacted by corporate greed, and to offer them a coherent vision of what could be, instead of what is.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, this is the beginning of the end it seems as the Labor Government heads down the slippery slope into what could be an Economic Recession.
    No one in Labor is listening to the words of their Treasurer and that the Economy is in dire straits.
    How many times has Jim Chalmers said “There are Challenges”.
    Can Labor afford its election promises?
    Inflation is rising. Prices are rising. Interest rates are rising. The Debt and Deficit are rising. Wages are not rising.
    That is an irresisteble force Vs the immoveable object.

  2. Good on you Vincent , you are gentle .. …. Jesus Christ almighty Emily wil you just go an F off and go troll somewhere else . Telegraph or the Australian , somewhere you’ll get a pat on the back for your stupid bull sh#t

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