Sunday, May 28, 2017

Coal, coal seam gas, food production, food security, climate change and population

Posted by Jim on December 20, 2010

The effects of irreversible environmental damage are just one of the factors in the battle against the excesses of the coalmining industry.  Top quality farming land faces devastation by coalmining or CSG extraction and that of course has been the focus of the campaigns against coalmining and its expansion.

To my mind, it is not only the environmental vandalism that is evident in the Hunter Valley, for example, but it is also the absence of Federal and State food security policies that is the most shocking context of this impetus to expand mining and extraction into productive land in the Hunter Valley [agricultural productivity is already decimated], the Liverpool Plains and the Darling Downs.  I am outraged that any Australian Government allows foreign companies owned by foreign governments [Shinghua 67% by PRC] or any mining company to buy up agricultural land for mining and CSG extraction.

I am equally outraged that they allow the sale of top quality agricultural land land to foreign companies owned by foreign governments whose mission statements refer to the food security of the foreign country [Hassad Foods & Qatar].  Australia is allowing foreign governments to purchase Australian land for their food security?  In the absence of a food security policy – let alone a strategy – for Australia!  That is a betrayal of Australia and future generations of Australians.

The campaign against coal needs to shift gears and address the failure of food security planning as a matter of urgency while the Labor Party and the Coalition are failing the nation and its grandchildren.  Indeed I would argue that the campaign against coalmining and coal seam gas should also adopt the discourse of betrayal of our national interest.  Even though there has been much made of the nonsensical proposition of allowing mining of top agricultural land, it might be seen as been a matter of self-interest on the part of farmers by an un-engaged city audience.

The failure of planners to take account of the impact of alienating productive land is a long-standing problem on the verges of urban expansion with the disappearance of large market garden areas around our cities and towns.  It doesn’t only happen in the capitals: it happens in regional cities such as Toowoomba.

The food security policy vacuum is locked into the other two major issues of our time and for the next generation [ie to 2030] and the next [to 2050]: population and climate change.  The population grows as we see the prospect of productive land diminished by Greed, Coal and CSG.  The best agricultural land must be preserved to feed our rapidly growing population, especially in the face of shifting climate characteristics and extended and more severe weather events.  But governments are sitting on their thumbs.

Take the Queensland Government, for example.  It now owns the agricultural land in the upper Mary River Valley while coalminers plan open cut pits along the river’s major tributaries and the river itself.  What does the Bligh Government do about planning food security for South-East Queensland and in particular, what does it do about the land it ill-advisedly purchased for the Traveston Dam?  It has run a food cropping land “inquiry” that does not specifically address food security nor specifically address the best use of the land it now owns and it can’t re-sell to the farmers it pushed off the land.  Is there a panel of agricultural scientists, environmental experts, and the local community nutting out a model plan for food security in the Mary Valley and planning for climate change?  Forget it!

Jim McDonald, Greens Wide Bay Spokesperson, 20/12/10

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National high speed rail a boost for local jobs and the region’s economy

Posted by Jim on August 6, 2010

High speed rail in Australia could be a real boon and provide hundreds of jobs in Maryborough, says Greens candidate, Jim McDonald. He was responding to an announcement on Thursday by the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government of a feasibility study for the Newcastle-Sydney corridor.

“As Minister for Regional Development, Mr Albanese should include EDI Rail in the feasibility study he announced.

“It’s indicative of the lack of long-term strategy in Labor or the Coalition that Mr Albanese spoke only of NSW. Green’s leader Bob Brown has been talking about a national high speed rail strategy for years.

“The Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast regions would benefit economically from a reliable, regular fast rail system. And it would reduce traffic on the Bruce Highway. Brisbane would only be a two to two and a half hours from Maryborough.

“This is what the Greens mean by green jobs. Rail will always be more efficient and less polluting than motor vehicles. And it would provide regional jobs. We need to think beyond existing frameworks. A High speed rail system would form a significant component of a low carbon economy in the region.”

Media release, Jim McDonald, 5 August 2010

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Posted by Jim on April 30, 2010

I am pleased to be working with the team to elect Larissa Waters to the Senate. I expect her to be the first Greens Senator in Queensland.

She will make a quality Senator when she joins the competent women senators in the Greens who have made a significant contribution to the job of governance of this country.

Launch 30/4/10

Greens Senate Candidate Larissa Waters and Wide Bay Candidate Jim McDonald talking to the cameras

I have spent the last several weeks talking to people in the Wide Bay electorate from Murgon to Tin Can Bay and from Noosa to Maryborough.

It will be my task as the Greens candidate to bring to the fore the issues that are important to the people in the electorate.

People are sick of the spin doctors. The Greens’ polling on Climate Change makes it quite clear that people want action not spin. They want straight talking not weasel words. They want a vision for Australia not protection of vested interests. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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Population figures by themselves are irrelevant

Posted by Jim on April 13, 2010

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]

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Population Minister cannot wait until after election for action

Posted by admin on April 5, 2010

The Prime Minister’s appointment of a new Population Minister to investigate population strategy must be matched by action said Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown.

“After so many years of government failure on this issue I welcome the Prime Minister’s move to take up Australian Greens’ call for a comprehensive national investigation into population strategy,” said Senator Brown.

“But the announcement today means any action to address urgent population issues will now be put off until after the federal election, at the earliest.

“In 2008 I called on the Government to establish a population policy and the Greens currently have a proposal for a national population inquiry before the Senate.

“The work by the Greens follows 15 years of failure by successive federal governments to implement the results of the last national population inquiry delivered in 1994 by Barry Jones.

“Australia cannot support a population of 35 million by 2050 as discussed by both the Prime Minister and the Opposition.

“The major parties population growth plan is outstripping Australia’s infrastructure and environmental capacity and affecting quality of life.

“We cannot wait until after the election for action.

“The Greens have already proposed immediate action the Government can take to manage population, including:

  • Increasing Australia’s overseas aid budget by 0.7 percent of our GDP with more funding for literacy and reproductive health
  • Reducing skilled migration while increasing our humanitarian and investing in skills and training.”
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Population planning responsible and necessary

Posted by Jim on

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.

Jim McDonald
Queensland Greens Candidate
Wide Bay Electorate

Letter to editor, Sunshine Coast Daily, 26 March 2010

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Australian Greens call for National Inquiry into population growth

Posted by admin on March 15, 2010

Greens are to move a motion calling on the Government to establish an independent National Inquiry into Australia’s Population to 2050.

“Australia’s population should be determined by the capacity of our environment and our infrastructure,” said Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown.

“Australia cannot support an increase in population to 35 million by 2050.

“Immigration should not be stopped.

“In fact Australia should increase its humanitarian immigration program, but we need to reduce our skilled migration program and balance that reduction by investing in skills training for Australians.

“National population policy is the responsibility of government; it should be responsive to national and global factors.

“Global population is expected to grow from 6.8 billion people now to 9.2 billion by 2050 and Australia should be taking a lead in finding global solutions.

“That should include increasing Australia’s overseas aid budget to 0.7% GDP now with more funding for literacy and reproduction health programs for women and girls.”

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