copyright Des Pensable 2015
On 2nd December 2015, more than 250 activists from around Australia and its Pacific Island neighbours staged a sit-in in the marble lobby of the Australian Parliament where they convened a meeting of the People’s Parliament on the elected government’s inaction on fighting Global warming. My friends and I from the Sutherland Environment Centre were some of them.
The meeting lasted about 90 minutes and during that period those present heard a number of speakers discussing the affects and ramifications of Global Warming on the people of Australia and the world. It called for strong action against Global Warming by the Australian delegation at the current Paris Climate conference and called for the government to put people before polluters.
News of the event attracted immediate wide mass media (Herald, Australian, 350.org, Junkee) and excellent social media coverage through the People’s Parliament web site and Twitter (#peoplesparliament). This was the first time so many people had staged such a large peaceful protest on Global Warming in the Australian Parliament itself.
However, the media particularly the TV coverage largely concentrated its attention on showing the People’s Parliament delegates being forcibly removed from parliament house by burly parliamentary police. Little was said about why it was held and what it discussed. So what was it really all about?
Australia has been called the lucky country as it has been endowed with vast mineral wealth and massive amounts of fossil fuels in the form of coal and gas. The problem is that in the age of Global Warming the climate scientists tell us that we need to keep our fossil fuel in the ground to prevent Global Warming exceeding 2C.
Like many third world countries Australia is now suffering from the resource curse. We have fossil fuel wealth and greedy extractivist fossil fuel barons want it. As Naomi Klein has pointed out, in her book and movie “This Changes Everything”, the result in the third world countries has been extensive political corruption and environmental destruction fuelling Global Warming. That is precisely what is happening here.
Recently, when the ICAC in NSW found a massive network of political corruption and named 10 politicians as corrupt they called the NSW state government the most corrupt in Australia’s history. The corruption involved illegal back room deals with the mining industry and large political donations for favouritism. Little has changed.
State and Federal politicians from both the major political parties and senior public servants are offered jobs with mining companies as staff or as lobbyists immediately they vacate their public positions regardless of whether they were found corrupt or not. Political lobbying in Australia as elsewhere attracts the conmen and criminals and some of our politicians are among them.
A typical example is Mark Vale an ex-deputy Prime Minister in the Howard LNP government and ex- Leader of the National party employed as a “political fixer” by controversial massive predominantly foreign owned Whitehaven coal mine currently destroying the Leard State Forrest, a national treasure near Boggabri in NSW.
The mine was subject to several dodgy backroom deals, approval irregularities, has breached environmental regulations with impunity, is deeply unpopular among local famers is destroying rare and endangered wildlife yet rolls on relentlessly.
The Labor party politicians are into the mining pig trough as well. Martin Fergusen was the Labor Minister for Resources and Energy in the Rudd and Gillard Governments where he led a strong pro-mining lobby.
He is now the the Chairman of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) which is little more than a miners’ club which fosters Global Warming denial and lobbies for opening more coal mines, uranium mines, blocking finance for renewables and trying to get activist organisations delisted as tax free charities in order to stop activists using current environmental laws to block the opening of new mines.
The result is a revolving door between the government and mining industry. An old boys club of rogue ex-politicians and cowboy mining magnates aiding and abetting predominantly foreign owned extractivist companies in looting and polluting Australia regardless of people’s health or the environment.
Current government policy is to look after polluters before people. Needless to say, calls for a federal ICAC to help tackle corruption in the federal parliament have fallen on deaf ears.
Greg Hunt, the Federal Environment Minister has recently approved the Alpha coal mine project again which will be the world’s biggest coal mine that will endanger the Great Barrier Reef at the very same time the world at the Paris Climate Conference is calling for no new coal mines to be opened.
He has also approved the massive Shenhua coal mine in the fertile Liverpool plains in NSW much to the horror of the National Party voting farmers in the region. The farmers have been sold out by their local politicians.
In a massive irony in the Liverpool Plains the conservative farmers are now NIMBY activists prepared to beg for help from tree huggers whom they used to treat with utter disdain. But the Global Warming issue is bigger than conservative petty biases. It’s no longer a city vs country issue. It’s about the future of our whole civilisation.
It’s no secret that large numbers of ordinary people are becoming environment activists in Australia. Groups like Lock the Gate have tens of thousands of members and there are hundreds of small environmental groups around the country. About 60,000 marched in Melbourne and 45,000 in Sydney recently for Paris Climate Change action.
Polls show that the majority of Aussies recognise that anthropogenic Global warming is a serious problem and strongly favour moving to renewables. They also fear the current LNP government is not doing enough to help fix the problem The polls also show that Australians hold little trust in either of the major parties or the main stream media.
There’s only one cure for the resource curse on Australia and that is for ALL Aussies to take back their government from the crooked batch bad apples in power today. The People’s Parliament in Canberra last week was the start of a long campaign for renewal in Australian politics.
We the People’s Parliament call on the Australian governments to put the people before polluters and keep out fossil fuels in the ground to ensure a safe future for our children and grandchildren or we WILL remove you and replace you with people that truly care about Australians.
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