Greens Brown Damns Environment Bill


New low for Howard regime: This legislation is a low point in the Howard government’s dereliction of its obligation to protect this nation’s heritage now and into the future. It is a breach of contract and obligation. It is a failure of the guardianship which governments owe to the voterless millions coming after us: our children, our grandchildren and their grandchildren 1,000 times into the future.

Dictatorship of mates: This legislation would disgrace some of the dictatorships which are indifferent to human and natural values elsewhere on the planet. This legislation says we bind our own hands in the face of a monumental environmental onslaught. This legislation says…

•  we will not necessarily contract ourselves to look at the impact of uranium mines and the nuclear industry on this country in the future;

• says we will prevent from going to the courts people who under the old legislation might have been able to take court action against government indifference and failure; we will close that avenue as well.

Age of escalating extinction; Let me say this, Mr President: if we cannot stand for the wild creatures with which we share this planet and for their habitat in an age of escalating extinction and five years after 1,500 of the world’s top scientists warned of a species cataclysm which threatens our own existence on this planet, then we are selling out the future of our country and we are selling out the future of this planet. This bill sells them out. It cheats them. It does so because there are sectoral interests—money-making, profiteering greedy businesses—which want this legislation to complement other legislation which punishes environmentalists if they move peacefully to protect the very thing this government is neglecting and turning its back on. What a disgraceful attitude by this government! What a disgraceful attitude by the opposition towards this nation’s future and towards its natural amenity, the wealth of nature which inspires us, gives us adventure, gives us spiritual fulfilment and gives us beauty in an age when those things are at a premium in life.

How could you do this? How could you do this to the coming generations of this country? You might do it to yourself, but how could you do it to the Australians yet to come? Why do you not have in here legislation taking the reins of protecting this environment? You are prepared to do it for workplaces in this country, to short-change workers, but you are not prepared to do it for the environment. Where is your use of the Corporations Law to stop the destruction of this nation’s heritage at Burrup, a World Heritage site? Where is the use of the Corporations Law to ensure that if we have a pulp mill it is based on plantation timber and not on the further destruction of the natural forests of this country? Where is your use of the Corporations Law to wind back climate change and the release of greenhouse gases which threaten the Great Barrier Reef, all the rangelands and all the inland waterways which, as Senator Siewert has been trying to point out in recent days, threatens the Ramsar sites, the wetlands of this nation? You are not using it for the environment, because those big business interests which want to make money out of marauding this nation’s environment have sway over you. All I can say is I hope you are not here this time next year. But if we look to the Labor Party, there is going to have to be a monumental change of philosophy which says that we put Australia’s future first, not the interests of those who want to make money out of doing the wrong thing, out of doing further injury.
Reference: Commonwealth of Australia, Senate, Hansard, Thursday 7 December 2006

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