Gross population figures by themselves are irrelevant. Whatever number Australia reaches by 2050 or 3000, the present growth trend will take Australia beyond the projected 35 million in Treasury’s forecasts.
The discussion about how big Australia’s population has to be, first, can we sustain the number? That means: do we have enough water? Do we degrade the environment by digging more coal pits and pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere? What efficient infrastructure do we need to reduce our reliance on oil to provide rapid and convenient transportation? What directions should education planning take to provide a skilled workforce that is not reliant on immigration? What technological developments that do not degrade air quality or add to toxic waste production can assist the necessary growth in productivity. To what extent can government encourage the necessary research? How do we go about protecting and utilising the most productive land for food cropping when so much has been alienated by urban spread? Should we expand the protection of forests and to what extent should we expand existing plantations?
The population question generates questions on a very wide range of policy issues and that is why Bob Brown’s call for a review is the most savvy response to the current discussion. However, if the discussion continues on in the vein of Gerard Henderson’s commentary, it will be nothing more than a fatuous focus on political spin. The future of the Australian population is not a one-dimensional question that political spin will resolve. The nation’s future requires a whole-of-picture approach and neither Mr Rudd nor Mr Abbott have demonstrated the vision for the future, which our politicians owe us all.
Letter to the Editor, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 April 2010 [unpublished]
The Queensland Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald said a combination of cost-cutting by shipping companies, a preparedness to take risks at the expense of the Great Barrier Reef, and a failure by maritime authorities to properly monitor international shipping has caused the Shen Neng 1 disaster on Douglas Shoal.
“The fact that this Chinese ship was taking a known short-cut and there was no system where Australian pilots are required on board suggests that the Federal Government has been asleep on the job in managing shipping near the Great Barrier Reef.”
He said the current member for Wide Bay, The Hon. Warren Truss should shoulder as much of the responsibility for this failure as the Rudd Government, because he had been Minister for Transport in the Howard Government.
“The Rudd Government inherited the problem, and the present Minister, Hon. Anthony Albanese, does not appear to have addressed the heightened chance of disaster arising from ships cutting through a narrow and shallow passage through the reef.
“The responsible ministers in successive Federal Governments have whistled in the wind while they relied on the crews of international shipping lines to do the right thing.
“The Reef is a precious national resource and its protection requires close vigilance by the authorities. This has clearly not happened with respect to bulk-shipping vessels off the Queensland Coast and we are entitled to know why. I support Senator Brown’s call for a Royal Commission,” he said.
Dr McDonald said, “What should come out of this disaster is a regulatory system that ensures that all shipping is closely monitored along the Queensland coast. Pilots on ships sailing through the Reef must be an immediate outcome.”
“It’s like looking down on an unclaimed bag in a subway,” Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said today after flying over the coal tanker stuck fast on the Great Barrier Reef. Just one other small vessel is nearby.
From the air the pristine blue ocean dotted with coral ringed emerald lagoons of the Marine Park dominates, but the Shen Neng 1 sits below like an environmental time-bomb.
“I congratulate all those who are insisting no measure is too expensive to help rescue the Reef and coast from this threat,” said Senator Brown.
“This is paradise in peril. The Greens will support every helpful measure to ameliorate the threat.
“The coal industry, along with its government facilitators, is to blame.
“Why did multi-billion dollar corporations, on both sides of the ocean, refuse to pay $8,000 for a pilot?
“And for the introduction to our national Environment Protection Act calls for the Precautionary Principle!”
“The Commonwealth must be mobilising national and international technology to protect the Reef and coasts including Shoalwater Bay.
“Prime Minister Rudd must tell us he has taken personal command of the crisis.”
Clive Newton [Sunshine Coast Daily, 25 March] seems to be quite comfortable with uncontrolled growth in our region and accuses the paper of adopting The Greens’ policy on population growth. Far from being “bizarre” as he describes it, planning policy is self-evidently responsible and necessary.
In The Green’s policy on Australia’s population, one of the key questions for planning at both national and regional levels is sustainability. This is about questions such as whether there is sufficient water for the region and whether waste is manageable without destroying habitat, undermining water quality, and alienating productive land.
This is not just a question of how big a population the Sunshine Coast can support. That planning would take into consideration the ability of the region to provide adequate social services, accessible health facilities, and adequate public transportation infrastructure.
Sustainable growth and its management must therefore address the social justice and equity implications of regional planning, ensuring in the development of South East Queensland communities that families can rely on stable work opportunities with decent wages and conditions, for example. Or that opportunity and equity for all generations is achieved. There is no point in allowing huge growth in our regions if it creates poverty and isolation of families.
Queensland Greens Candidate
Wide Bay Electorate
Letter to editor, Sunshine Coast Daily, 26 March 2010
The Queensland Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, welcomed Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s announcement of a review of fishing off the Cooloola Coast and Fraser Island.
He said Mr Garrett seems to be taking a comprehensive approach, but we will be watching to ensure that this doesn’t turn into another half-baked exercise. Local fishery concerns are right to be upset by a succession of reviews because earlier approaches failed to address all the issues.
Dr McDonald said, “It makes sense to ensure that fisheries are maintained at sustainable levels. Responsible elements of the fishing industry support quotas and protection of fish nurseries, so they can prosper into the future. It’s the cowboys who are the problem.”
The Greens have long advocated managing both recreational and commercial fisheries to sustain the population of native freshwater fish and fish in the ocean.
“This means protecting the habitat of fish nurseries in the wild. Marine parks are important for this and the Nationals have supported the Greens in the past on increasing the number of reserves.
“Some recreational fishing groups have habitually misrepresented The Greens’ policy on fishing, alleging that we would ban fishing altogether. That is plainly untrue,” he said, “And I wonder at their motives.
“Only when there is protection of the biodiversity of fish and of their environment can our grandchildren and their grandchildren participate in the joys of fishing. All responsible anglers and the industry would want that.
“If Mr Garrett’s review does not achieve that objective he will have not only failed the fishing industry but consumers and future generations.”
Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz today voted with the Government to block debate on his own bill to stop Australian companies aiding or abetting the slaughter of whales by the Japanese whaling fleet.
The Prohibition of Support for Whaling Bill was devised by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert after Japanese whalers chartered planes out of Hobart and Albany to spy on Sea Shepherd ships going to obstruct whaling. Senator Abetz then asked Senator Siewert if he could co-host the bill.
Opposition spokesperson Greg Hunt called on the Government to support the bill this week.
But today Senator Abetz did a back-flip to join the Government in blocking the debate.
“Senator Abetz first reacted to back the huge feeling against whalers in Australia but has back-flipped on direction from the Abbot leadership,” Senator Brown said.
A recent poll showed 94% of Australians oppose Japanese whaling.
“When push comes to shove, the Abbott opposition is every bit as weak as the Rudd Government on whaling,” Senator Brown said.
Senator Nick Xenophon supported debate on the bill.
The Rudd government’s bungling of the renewable energy target legislation is jeopardising hundreds of jobs around Australia, including those about to be lost at the stalled Musselroe Bay wind farm.
The Greens have proposed a Private Member’s Bill to fix the legislation, based on amendments rejected by both Labor and Liberals when the bill was being debated. The government could save the Musselroe jobs by working with the Greens to fix the target scheme.
“Mr Rudd and Minister Wong could save these people’s jobs at Musselroe Bay if they fixed the bungled renewable energy target,” Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne said.
“We can fix this problem so easily and I challenge Mr Rudd and Senator Wong to look at our proposal and work with us to make sure the renewables sector survives and flourishes.
“$20 billion of investment in wind power alone that is waiting to be unleashed by solid policy is being undermined by Rudd government mismanagement.
“It’s not just jobs at Musselroe Bay and other industrial scale renewable energy developments across the country, but the Rudd government’s climate credibility is on the line here if the renewable energy target is not urgently fixed.
“The gross mismanagement of the Green Loans Scheme is also jeopardising jobs and small businesses across the country as we speak.”
The Greens repeatedly warned that including solar hot water, heat pumps and multiplied rooftop solar credits in the renewable energy target would crash the price of renewable energy certificates (RECs), stopping commercial-scale renewable energy developments from getting off the ground. This would not have come to pass if Greens amendments moved at the time had been accepted.
“It was obvious that this would happen, but both the government and opposition refused to heed the warnings and rejected my amendments that would have prevented it,” Senator Milne said.
“This is typical of Mr Rudd and Senator Wong’s spin-over-substance approach to climate and clean energy.”
Senator Milne’s Private Member’s Bill would add RECs from solar hot water, heat pumps and the solar multiplier to the top of the target. This would ensure that the technologies are supported but do not crowd out large-scale renewable energy.
“This is not the perfect policy, but it is an achievable way to fix this problem quickly.
“Ideally, the Greens would like to see an energy efficiency target and a gross feed-in tariff running alongside the renewable energy target, supporting solar water heating, rooftop solar and much more. That would be the best way to drive a boom in zero emissions energy.”
Whales bring thousands of visitors and hundreds of jobs to the Wide Bay Electorate
How many more whales have to die before the Government makes up its mind if it is going to take legal action against Japan, asked the Australian Greens today.
“Mr Rudd’s threats to take legal action are laughable, unless he has the will to put them into action – his Government has been using the same lines for the last two seasons just as the Coalition did before them, and Australians don’t believe him” said Australian Greens marine spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.
“Mr Rudd has confirmed there are no plans to use Australian boats to monitor whaling this season, as their only purpose was to gather evidence to support a future court case. That was two years ago – and what has been accomplished in that time?”
“The Prime Minister Rudd must raise the issue of whaling when he meets the Japanese Prime Minister next week. If he fails to resolve the issue next week with the Japanese Prime Minister, he should commence legal action in the international courts immediately,” said Senator Siewert.
“Negotiations between Australia’s Environment Minister, Whale Envoy and the Japanese Government have achieved nothing – as evident when we see the Japanese whaling fleet heading back out into the Southern Ocean.”
“We cannot wait until the next International Whaling Commission meeting in mid 2010 to take action on Japanese whaling – that is after the current whaling season and hundreds of whales will be slaughtered while the Australian Government dithers.”
“The Japanese plan to take nearly 1000 minke whales and 50 fin whales in their hunt this season. The only thing standing in the way of that quota is the Sea Shepherd, who again will be on the seas alone,” she concluded.
"No world leader can ignore the planet's population burden. There were 3 billion people when Kevin Rudd was born. There are 6.8 billion now. There will be 9 billion by mid-century. This population boom is not economic wisdom, it is a recipe for planetary exhaustion and great human tragedy."
Bob Brown, September 2009
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