By Denis Bright
Nationwide support for Black Lives Matter demonstrates our capacity to over-ride cautions from political elites during the current public health crisis if the demand for protest is urgent enough.
After 70,000 years of human settlement in Australia, the spirit of the Dreamtime is just as relevant as ever in advancing human rights and ecological sustainability.
Mainstream environmental education can be a refocus of Dreamtime Interpretations and extend from environmental education itself to literature and natural sciences.
The appeal of our exotic landscapes has surely been rekindled by the isolation imposed during the COVID-19 era. Australians might largely be prevented from embarking on non-essential overseas travel for the foreseeable future beyond the proposed COVID-safe travel bubble to New Zealand and some adjacent Pacific Islands.
Neo-conservatives will be nostalgic about a rapid return to the perceived normalcy of a corporately driven society. Promoting fear of China will damage our own economic recovery from the current public health crisis.
Fair scrutiny of overseas investment and commercial franchises are always necessary. These controls should not just be directed at one country which now has frosty relationships with the Trump Administration.
It may indeed take decades before there is a return to even-handed Chinese investment in Australia. In the interim corporate investment will always be at the behest of multinational corporate leaders with their penchant for systematic tax evasion through overseas tax havens and dodgy accounting practices (Nassim Khaden in The SMH 20 May 2018):
Fast-food giant McDonald’s has defended its long-standing practice of paying hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties offshore, which reduces its local taxes, as a legitimate business practice.
The American company’s latest financial accounts for the year ending December 31, 2017, show McDonald’s paid its head entity – previously based in Singapore but now based in Britain – a “service fee” amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. Payment of the fee reduced McDonald’s Australia’s tax bill because it lowered its taxable profit.
McDonald’s Australia reported paying a service fee of $388.8 million to related entity McDonald’s Asia Pacific (up from $374.6 million in 2016). The company confirmed the entire $388.8 million was a royalty fee.
Environmental education should indeed be a focus of school curricula options in the post-corona era in most subject areas in contrast to the negative outcomes generated saturation advertising of junk-foods. This not so remote landscape at Chillagoe, just 250 kms west of Cairns hardly needs the enhancement of fried chicken packs.
Creative focus on environments justifies an introductory focus on just how local environments at Chillagoe fit onto the broader patterns of tropical savanna ecosystems.
As with most overseas educational resources, some fine tuning of the Distribution of the Key Global Biomes is required. The main shortcoming of the global distribution map is surely the category of Mixed and Deciduous Forests which needs more sub-classifications and some fine-tuning of inaccuracies in the colourful mix provided for students.
It is for students and their teachers to clarify the diversity of natural and built environments in each of the ecosystems covered. In this recovery phase from a major public health crisis, environmental awareness is good for morale even if it is simply a local walk or bicycle ride.
Even a quite accurate Geology Map of Metro Brisbane is far-too generalised to cover all the habitat niches in local areas where rock formations present a baffling challenge to students and educators alike. Here past heritages, present realities and future trends interact.
Advancing Earth and Space Science (30 April 2020) has provided some topical anecdotes on the easy access available to the Gold Mine Picnic Area at Mt. Coot-tha in Brisbane which I hope to visit myself for the first time. (Report by Evelyn Mervine):
One of our favourite hikes at Mount Coot-tha is along the Ghost Hole Track, which takes you past some old gold mine workings. At Mount Coot-tha, there is gold mineralization is located in small quartz-rich lenses that are located in meta-sedimentary rocks, specifically in the Bunya Phyllite and the Neranleigh-Fernvale Beds.
The gold mineralization at Mount Coot-tha is not spectacular. However, there was intermittent gold mining on the mountain from the 1890s to the 1950s. Today, no gold prospecting or mining is permitted in the forest, but you can take a walk along an easy hiking trail to see an old gold mining shaft and some remnants of mining infrastructure. You can even have a picnic at the “Gold Mine Picnic Area”.
We really enjoy our little hikes through the former gold mining area. The forest is beautiful, and the remnants of gold mining and associated informational signs are interesting. The hike is perfect if you want an easy, but interesting, hike to go on with a toddler.
Our international perspectives might also be so different if Australians identified with the Biomes on the North-South Divide between the Arctic and the Antarctic.
This perspective takes us such a long way from the mainstream media perspectives of international affairs with an artificial focus on a Washington DC.
The deafness of the Trump Administration to the problem of climate change in the Indo Pacific Basin is indeed one of the gravest security threats of our times. No amount of militarisation of our region will address the problem in the future.
Contemporary geopolitical boundaries do exist. However, the focus on divisions and perceived strategic threats should not be opportunities for the spread of militarism as welcomed by the federal LNP during the Trump era (The Canberra Times, 24 August 2019):
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has opened the first phase of the expanded naval base at Lombrum on Manus Island, it has been reported.
Australia has been working with the US and Papua New Guinea to upgrade the strategically significant deep-water port into a key staging point into Asia.
The base will host Australian and US naval ships as part of a deal signed with Papua New Guinea and is seen as a potential counter to China’s rising influence in the contested South China Sea.
Manus Island now has a new wharf, facilities for maritime infrastructure and long-range communications, and troop barracks, News Corp reports.
The Australian Navy and Air Force have also been involved in training PNG forces and overhauling local aircraft, and four patrol boats are set to be gifted to the Pacific nation.
“It has always been a very strategic location in our region, and this is a base the Papua New Guineans have identified that they would like to further develop,” Senator Reynolds told News Corp.
“This is strategically important … in a military context it has always been important and remains so.”
Senator Reynolds said the defence deal with PNG was worth $42 million per year and included training, infrastructure and hardware.
Base commander Peter Tupma claimed the expansion was necessary.
“The world is shifting and there are power plays in our region and we are very blessed to be in partnership with Australia,” he said.
Does Australia indeed speak for a diverse region when it imposes a militaristic future on an island which served as the location of a refugee detention centre and now a high-profile defence base at the expanded Lombrum Naval Base?
Giving Peace a Better Chance in the Post-Corona Era
It was the government of Peter O’Neil in PNG which ordered the closure of the Manus Island Detention Centre which was the scene of riots in 2014. Does the anguish of the 2014 riots justify a militaristic future for the island in a bizarre power game about perceived strategic threats from China to our region? (The Guardian 1 June 2020).
Compulsive obedience to great and powerful friends abroad within the US Global Alliance carries too many blind spots which this weekend’s rallies in both Australia and the USA have sought to expose. A renewed focus on Dreamtime values will surely assist in tempering our obedience to great and powerful friends with alternative visions of new military bases and space warfare as future distractions to the Australian Spirit.
Two leaders from the Five Eyes Intelligence network are already offside with the antics of the Trump Administration from New Zealand and Canada. Australian activism can tip the balance in favour of more dissent in the Echelon surveillance network.
Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.
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