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Victorian Labor’s environmental policy amnesia - political opportunism trumps principle

The Andrews Labor government has just failed a crucial test of its integrity in relation to threatened species listings and biodiversity governance. Immediately prior to losing office in December 2010, the Brumby Labor government had finalized listing the dingo as a threatened native taxon under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

The current Labor government’s virtual trashing of that listing, through the reinstatement of a ‘wild-dog’ bounty, which directly panders to the Victorian Upper House Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party members, who were voted in on a relative handful of first preference votes, now casts a shadow over the Victorian Government’s commitment to biodiversity conservation.

Monash University’s appeal to snobbery reflects deeper intellectual malaise

In early April, Monash University ran a television advertisement, promoting itself as an institution that challenges the ‘status quo’. The advertisement sarcastically ‘thanks’ and therein belittles ‘contented and settled’ conventional people in different walks of life; they are accused of ‘closing down ideas’ and ‘accepting things the way they are’. It is inferred that the pathology of social conformity, which presumably blights the great majority of us, is the antithesis of life at Monash, where students are admitted to an enlightened elite that is supposedly unconstrained by social norms and conventions. Implicitly, being unfettered by the mental torpor of the majority, this elite becomes the rightful moral guardian of the unenlightened crowd.

A West Brunswick Resident’s account of Moreland Council ‘Neighbourhood Centres Strategy’ public meeting for West Brunswick residents

Estonian House, West Brunswick, 24th February
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The crux of this meeting, as presented by Moreland planning staff, is that the previous agreement was voided root-and-branch by the State Government, and in the newly planned Neighbourhood Centres, the allocated zones have been changed somewhat (no-one seemed to recall being given prior notice) and also the previously agreed 3-storey limits (all achieved by quite verbally violent public activity!) have morphed into 4-storey. In the course of the meeting it turned out that 4-storey was not 4-storey mandatory but 4-storey discretionary! The council "hoped" they could make them mandatory. It was impossible despite direct and explicit questioning to find out what was the actual upper height limit is right now, or even if there is an upper height limit.

Pascoe Vale Resident’s account of Moreland Council ‘Neighbourhood Centres Strategy’ public consultation meeting for Pascoe Vale and Oak Park residents, February 2016

I went to the one [meeting] at Pascoe Vale neighbourhood Community Hall. People were hostile. They [Council staff] said they were seeking community input for their submission. One resident said;

'Is it going to be like last time when you had the Moreland Rezoning Community consultations. You didn't give an accurate account of our opinions in your submission. No mention how residents opposed increased density, wanted greater protection etc. Instead you said things like, residents wanted better quality apartments etc. What a load of bullshit, you lot are going to do what you want?'

The residential rezoning merry-go-round continues; First the Coalition; now Labor Screws Moreland Residents

Moreland residents are presently being treated to a new round of ‘consultations’ throughout the municipality, and being indoctrinated by Council staff on the assumed benefits of residential rezoning (radically increased residential densities) and of neighbourhood activity centres as a central feature of the ’20-minute city’. Under this new feudalism, it is expected that residents will access all of their basic material needs and services within a 20 minute walk, bicycle trip, or by public transport. Superficially this may seem a nice idea. On closer scrutiny it is fanciful, so expensive that the necessary additional infrastructure will never be provided, and little more than a pretext for an atrophied Australian business culture dependent upon population growth and capital widening; incapable of building a genuinely modern economy.

Kangaroo products trade to California and the Australian government’s interference in foreign conservation legislation

There has been recent media coverage of efforts by the Australian government, in concert with the Australian Kangaroo products industry, to overturn an impending ban on the importation of Kangaroo products to California. The trade in Kangaroo products has been largely in the form of leather products. Aside from ethical issues surrounding the underhandedness of the Australian government’s interference in the Californian legislature on this issue, these events raise broader ethical issues about ongoing attempts to commercialize the harvesting of Australian wildlife, including for international trade.

Tasmanian Devil Reintroduction on Mainland Australia - Ethical???

Posted on behalf of the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program Inc.

A recent academic publication explores the prospects of reintroducing the threatened Tasmanian Devil into forested south eastern Australia as a way of restoring ecosystems. Two important environmental objectives are considered in putting this forward: increasing the survival prospects of the devil itself which is currently threatened in Tasmania, and restoring ecosystems through the re-introduction of a top-order predator role in areas where the dingo (which currently performs this role) has been ‘extirpated’.

Fairfax sinks to a new low on population growth

The Fairfax media sank to a new low recently in pushing its in-house pro-population bias (in The Age) by publishing commentary on this crucial issue from the Australian Population Institute.

Unfortunately, the article, ‘We should look to the west as our population swells’, by Jane Nathan, 16 July 2015, highlights the way in which the left-liberal establishment in Australia, including Fairfax, now sings from the same song sheet as free-market growth maniacs. While it may be claimed that the population-boosting rant presented in this article is the opinion of the Australian Population Institute and not Fairfax, Fairfax, of course, can exercise considerable bias in its selection of opinion piece commentary. It has a broad menu of pro-population vested interests to choose from. It is worth mentioning that material presented as commentary or opinion does not have to stand up to any serious standard of factual accuracy or rationality in the eyes of the Australian Press Council. Commentary, therefore, provides an opportunity to push an in-house view to extremes without being very accountable about it. Fairfax may respond that ‘balance’ will be struck over the longer-term with the subsequent publication of opposing views. Just when this may occur or whether subsequent opinion would directly address the inaccuracies and bias of commentary like this within a reasonable time frame remains unclear.

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