The program that night included a superb movie River (Tuesday 19 July, ABC), catching up on Tanya Plibersek at the National Press Club with the State of the Environment Report, and Bob Brown sparring with Sarah Ferguson on 7.30.
River, with its magnificent photography combined with the Australian Chamber Orchestra backing, sends messages to us, and the one that haunts me is ‘we must ask ourselves are we being good ancestors’ – the answer is a resounding ‘NO!’
The 2021 State of the Environment Report is shameful as was the first one in 1996. Both highlighted the loss of native species, land clearing and precious topsoil blowing in the wind, to name just a few common problems. Back then we were committed to meet our international commitments to ecological sustainable development. Now we are struggling to meet our international commitments to keep our planet habitable.
The destruction of the natural environment predates the 12 Howard years and the recent nine years of Coalition rule. It goes way back to the first white ancestors who cleared the forests and tamed the flow of the inland rivers so they could grow homeland food on the driest, flattest, inhabited continent on the planet. Adapting the environment to our needs has progressed mercilessly. It’s everybody’s fault.
Minister Plibersek mentioned a few times that she had only been in the job for six weeks. Really? Twenty-four years in parliament, voting on countless pieces of environment and energy legislation, she is clearly no novice on these issues. She also insisted that Labor will keep to its election promises; an emissions target of 43 per cent and no ban on exporting coal, as, she explained, burning it overseas doesn’t count.
For lots of reasons Labor is better than the other mob, but better is not good enough when it remains shamefully deaf to the advice from the world’s many climate scientists. How can it seriously ignore their advice?
We can also celebrate the environmentally committed Teals breaking the Liberal vote and the Greens winning unwinnable seats. Here’s hoping the Teal remains more green than blue.
So let’s hear it loud and clear, from the Greens and Independents, that they want us to stop being bad ancestors. That we can’t ignore the unprecedented fires, the devastating floods on floodplains, the trickle of the once mighty Darling River and the vanishing species.
That we can respect the limits of this great and wonderful land. That we can leave some hope for our children and grandchildren and all the rest of those to come. We all just have to put the planet first.