Tail wags the policy dog on environment
THE “DERANGED CIRCUS of wreckers” and climate change deniers in federal politics described by the Guardian’s Katherine Murphy after Turnbull was booted out, and the reactionary wreckers of native species and ecosystems that we endure in NSW from the National Party and their Liberal Party appeasers have inordinate influence over our lives.
Poll after poll shows the majority of voters want action on responding to climate change and business wants a steady energy policy, all stymied by the deniers in the Liberal Party. The question is: why do we let a tiny minority of climate change deniers and biodiversity wreckers set the environmental agenda for the state and nation?
The National Party, far from representing all rural people has a declining national vote: just 4.6% at the 2016 federal election. In NSW the percentage may be a bit larger but still their 16 (after preferences) Lower House seats out of 93 buy them inordinate influence over our natural environment.
They hold key related portfolios including water, lands and forestry and primary industries. Can we boot these people and their destructive policies out already?
The Primary Industries portfolio under the National Party’s Niall Blair has pushed aside the already enfeebled and compliant Department of Environment and Heritage under Gabrielle Upton — nominally the guardians of native species — to basically declare open season on kangaroos in NSW as if that will solve the weather woes of graziers.
Calling on recreational shooters
Primary Industries is calling on city huntin’ and shootin’ hobbyists to link up with rural landholders to kill the kangaroos, and, who knows: probably shoot wallabies and wombats or maybe emus as well, as is happening in Queensland. They all eat grass and vegetation if there is any. It is extraordinarily irresponsible.
Who would be checking? The hunters barely need a permission tick. Is anyone asking whether these people even shoot straight? Here is a safety as well as an animal welfare issue, especially in more built-up areas. Bullets can travel three km. They ricochet and firearms have been known to be carelessly handled. The recent shooting of a teenager near Bathurst on a hunting excursion may be the recent human victim but probably not the last.
Meanwhile the commercial kangaroo killing industry, which is already operating in our regional communities, is poised to pitch landholders for more access. To the commercial industry our wildlife is just exploitable ‘natural resources’ for German sausages, for leather, and for city dwellers’ pet mince.
A letter in response to a recent Bulletin editorial ‘War on Wildlife Ramps Up’ paints the bleak choices facing many farmers on marginal land in Australia’s boom-and-bust conditions and starvation for wildlife and stock. Again I heard about kangaroo ‘plagues’ in north- western NSW, as if marsupial mobs survive on air and drop out of the sky during a drought. Animals are on the move and the graziers are doing it tough no doubt. But government statistics show kangaroo populations in western NSW are already crashing, not ballooning — as the editorial stated. The lack of reserves and corridors don’t help.
Joeys already the youngest victims
The outcome of knee-jerk scapegoating of kangaroos and invitation to shooters is already apparent. Just this morning via social media an outraged animal sympathiser wrote what a country friend had told her: “Weekend shooting parties in NSW: Non-stop shooting from 7.30 this morning until around 11am multiple killers firing at as many kangaroos as they could find at Gurrundah [near Gunning towards Crookwell]. Of course no oversight so many will be wounded and the babies left to die a lingering death with wounded adults.”
At Possumwood wildlife rescue and recovery centre in Bywong, little Tulip is recovering. She was rescued as she tried to crawl into the pouch of her dead mother who had been shot in the stomach on the Old Federal Highway just north of Sutton. She was lying with a small group of kangaroos found near the roadside.
Wildlife rescue groups are reporting an upsurge of orphaned joeys and injured adults in recent months coincident with the expectation of the NSW government opening the killing gates, as they have. More on that next week.
This week the Bulletin also reports on another aspect of the NSW government’s nature policies with the imminent upswing in native forest logging and the three-fold increase in destruction of habitat for koalas and other arboreal species.
Dark Emu and the world we live in
Scroll down to the Lifestyle section where we bring you book reviews. There you will find a review of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu with its startling and long-overdue revelations about the civilisation and achievements of the first Australians — evidence that were swept aside by the colonising Europeans.
A final book note: In New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, (Around the Web from the New Yorker — The deliberate awfulness of social media) author James Bridle reminds us not only that Bitcoin exchanges will soon have a larger carbon footprint than the whole of the United States but that research is showing rising carbon dioxide clouds the mind and is making us stupider. A crisis of thought. So that explains everything!