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Tag Archives: marine parks

Why the bloody hell are you doing this?

To those who find the title offensive, I apologise. I got my inspiration from the former chief executive of Tourism Australia, Scott Morrison, who asked the rest of the world: ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’

According to a government paper released in July 2013, Tourism’s Contribution to the Australian Economy, the tourism industry employs 908,434 persons or 7.9% of total Australian employment (Direct – 531,900 persons, Indirect – 376,534 persons). Mining, by comparison, employs 2.4% of the workforce with this figure set to drop.

In 2011-12, tourism’s contribution to Australia’s GDP was $87.3 billion or 5.9% of total GDP (Direct GDP – $41.0 billion, Indirect GDP – $46.2 billion). In the same year, mining contributed 9.6% of GDP.

In the long term, total tourism GDP rose at an average annual rate of 4.6 per cent between 1997–98 and 2011–12 and it is continuing to grow with short-term visitor arrivals to Australia forecast to grow to 7.0 million in 2014–15. Inbound expenditure is forecast to grow on average 3.5 per cent per annum and reach $39 billion by 2022–23.

In summary, tourism is a big employer and a growing industry which makes a substantial contribution to our economy. Unlike mining, the majority of the profits from this industry remain in Australia. Unlike manufacturing, it doesn’t move operations offshore to save money (unless you count Qantas). Whole communities are built around tourism which does not all of a sudden decide to close like factories or mines do.

So how is the Abbott government protecting this most important industry?

According to Wikipedia:

“Popular Australian destinations include the coastal cities of Sydney and Melbourne, as well as other high profile destinations including regional Queensland, the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest reef. Uluru and the Australian outback are other popular locations, as is Tasmanian wilderness. The unique Australian wildlife is also another significant point of interest in the country’s tourism.”

We are covering regional Queensland with mines. We are dumping dredge on the reef which will now become a highway for huge tankers. We are getting rid of World Heritage listing so we can log the Tasmanian forests. We are getting rid of marine parks so we can kill more marine life. And in the most foolhardy step of all, we are refusing to take action on climate change which will put all these national treasures at risk and make large parts of the country virtually uninhabitable.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said the closure of the Climate Change Authority was part of a push to reduce bureaucracy, and climate change advice could come from the federal environment department, CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology.

He then promptly cut hundreds of jobs at the CSIRO in November:

“The Federal Government says as many as 600 jobs will be cut at Australia’s pre-eminent science and research organisation.”

and hundreds more in March.

Hundreds more job cuts are looming at the CSIRO as the peak science body pushes through its biggest restructure in decades. The job cuts are on top of the ban on renewing the jobs of CSIRO’s temps and contractors, revealed by Fairfax last year, which has caused the group’s head count to fall from 6500 to fewer than 6100.”

The same thing happened at the Department of the Environment.

“About 480 public servants will lose their jobs at Environment, on top of 190 bureaucrats who have already gone, and hundreds of programs and activities will either be modified or axed in a sweeping restructure as the department tries to cope with dwindling funds and efficiency dividend cuts.”

The Bureau of Meteorology had its budget slashed by $13 million last year and now runs commercial ads on its website. Robert Crawford, a communications professor at University of Technology Sydney, said:

”There could be a temptation to reduce funding, but you wouldn’t want them to become dependent on outside revenue because advertisers can always walk away.”

Bernie Fraser, Climate Change Authority chairman, said public servants did good work, but did not have the freedom and opportunity to deliver well-considered, independent advice in the manner of the authority, Reserve Bank or Productivity Commission.

”On a subject as complex as climate change, I would have thought every government – whatever its complexion – would want to get good independent advice. I find it a bit frustrating this opportunity … seems to be foreclosing a bit with the present government. I think that’s a disappointment.”

Tony Abbott continues to show his utter disregard for the environment and climate science. When addressing a timber industry dinner, despite Heritage Listing and dire warnings about deforestation, he said:

We have quite enough national parks. We have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest. Getting that 74,000 hectares out of World Heritage Listing, … will be an important sign to you, to Tasmanians, to the world, that we support the timber industry.”

Despite the cuts we see elsewhere, Abbott found the money to set up a new Forestry Advisory Council to support the timber industry.

Now we hear that Parks Australia, which administers the six Commonwealth National Parks, including Kakadu, Uluru, Christmas Island, and Canberra’s National Botanic Gardens, as well as 58 marine reserves, will face funding cuts which will cause it to consider raising money by raising visitors’ fees, allowing more commercial tourist infrastructure – like hotels – to be built or even selling naming rights.

Also, the Hobart-based Australian Antarctic Division has had $100 million cut from its funding and will have to seek commercial sponsorship from private corporations for future research.

This government is hellbent on a short term grab for cash. Investors advise that there is a very small window for making a profit from coal – it is most definitely not an investment for the future. So what do we do? Approve massive new coal mines and port expansion on the reef. Renewable energy is a growing industry so what do we do? Wind back subsidies and review the renewable energy target and send investors scurrying. Selling profitable assets to build roads is a hugely retrograde step. Not only do we forego future revenue and leave the cupboard bare, the employment generated during construction is not ongoing, and does nothing to address the problem of pollution caused by an increasing number of cars clogging our cities. Obviously urban rail, public transport, bike lanes, high speed rail, and a second airport for Sydney are more pressing priorities.

We live in a beautiful country. Even if you are not willing to fight for it for purely aesthetic reasons, sacrificing everything for mining makes no economic sense. We are sacrificing tourism and manufacturing, our health and our home, all for a dying industry. This government might get to a surplus a couple of years earlier – so what? The cost of irreversible damage is far too high.

 

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Hot time in Brisbane

Image from news.com.au

Image from news.com.au

In September 2013, then host of the G20, Russia, produced a 27 page long G20 Leaders’ Declaration outlining their future priorities and goals. Contained in that document was the following:

“We welcome efforts aimed at promoting sustainable development, energy efficiency, inclusive green growth and clean energy technologies and energy security for the long term prosperity and well being of current and future generations in our countries.

It is our common interest to assess existing obstacles and identify opportunities to facilitate more investment into more smart and low-carbon energy infrastructure, particularly in clean and sustainable electricity infrastructure where feasible. In this regard we encourage a closer engagement of private sector and multilateral development banks with the G20 Energy Sustainability Working Group (ESWG) and call for a dialogue to be launched on its basis in 2014 that will bring interested public sector, market players and international organizations together to discuss the factors hindering energy investment, including in clean and energy efficient technologies and to scope possible measures needed to promote sustainable, affordable, efficient and secure energy supply.”

In Australia, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is doing just that.

“The CEFC investments in renewable technologies span a range of energy sources- wind, solar and bioenergy – and different financial structures. The CEFC has co-financed utility scale investments along with other Australian and international banks, co-financed businesses to maximise their potential use of renewable energy resources, and participated in refinancing deals.”

What’s more, they are attracting investment, creating jobs in new industries, and making a profit for the government while doing it.

“Since its creation 18 months ago, the CEFC has matched private sector funds of $2.90 for each $1 of CEFC investment to catalyse over $1.55 billion in non-CEFC private capital investment in projects and programs, while it has committed $536 million. Those projects account for a reduction in 3.9 million tonnes of carbon.

The CEFC is earning an average return of 7 per cent, and its abolition would cost taxpayers up to ­$200 million annually in lost ­revenue.”

There can be absolutely no justifiable reason for closing down the CEFC. It is the ultimate example of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

The 2013 G20 report also said:

“We appreciate the progress achieved since the establishment of the G20 Global Marine Environment Protection (GMEP) Initiative and welcome the launch of the GMEP Initiative website as a key element of the GMEP Mechanism for the voluntary exchange of national best practices to protect the marine environment, in particular to prevent accidents related to offshore oil and gas exploration and development, as well as marine transportation, and to deal with their consequences.”

They must be thrilled to hear this.

“According to a press release from the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, the peak body representing angler interests nationally, Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the Government would come good on its promise to “suspend and review” the controversial marine parks process initiated by Labor and the Greens.”

And this:

“Unfortunately, soon a massively destructive coal port will be built just 50 km north of the magnificent Whitsunday Islands. The port expansion was approved by the Abbott Liberal National government on Wednesday 11 December, and it will become one of the world’s largest coal ports.

The coal export facility is ironically located on Abbot Point. The construction of this port will involve dredging 3 million cubic metres of seabed. The dredge spoil will be dumped into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.”

And this:

“While Western Australia’s shark cull policy was meant to protect beachgoers, it has alarmed and horrified marine conservationists since it goes against the global effort to protect the declining shark population.”

Not to mention the whales…really…don’t mention the whales.

Another of the G20 goals was to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

“We reaffirm our commitment to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption over the medium term while being conscious of necessity to provide targeted support for the poorest.”

Christine Lagarde, president of the International Monetary Fund, has warned that climate change is one of the greatest economic threats facing the world.

“The planet is “perilously close” to a climate change tipping point, and requires urgent cooperation between countries, cities and business, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has said.

Addressing an audience in London, Lagarde said reducing subsidies for fossil fuels and pricing carbon pollution should be priorities for governments around the world.

“Overcoming climate change is obviously a gigantic project with a multitude of moving parts. I would just like to mention one component of it—making sure that people pay for the damage they cause,” she said. “We are subsidizing the very behaviour that is destroying our planet, and on an enormous scale.

Both direct subsidies and the loss of tax revenue from fossil fuels ate up almost $2 trillion in 2011—this is about the same as the total GDP of countries like Italy or Russia.”

I wonder if they realise that:

“the Australian Government plans to gift over $10 billion of taxpayer’s money to subsidise fossil fuel use.”

Australia has assumed the presidency of the G20 for 2014 and Tony Abbott has released his agenda.

“Australia’s G20 Presidency in 2014 will structure leaders’ discussion around the key themes of:

  • Promoting stronger economic growth and employment outcomes
  • Making the global economy more resilient to deal with future shocks

We want to maintain a tight focus on practical outcomes that will lift growth, boost participation, create jobs and build the resilience of the global economy.”

Okay, reasonable goals, but what about clean energy and sustainable practice. This is what Tony has to say on that:

Strengthening energy market resilience

Well-functioning energy markets and reliable supply are essential to every household and business and have a significant impact on the cost of living and the cost of doing business. Emerging economies are expected to account for more than 90 per cent of growth in energy demand to 2035. In 2014 the G20 will support international efforts to improve the operation of global energy markets and increase cooperation between major producers and consumers. The G20 will also explore how it can advance work on energy efficiency and continue its work to improve the transparency of energy markets. These efforts will help position us to meet the energy demands of the future.”

The only environment mentioned in his document is the investment environment.

Abbott and Newman must be expecting a hot old time at the G20 meeting later this year in Queensland. In typical Queensland fashion, they have made new laws to cope with it.

“The Queensland Government last night passed legislation to strengthen police powers during the G20 events in Brisbane and Cairns.

The legislation declares special security areas in the two cities, gives police extra search and arrest powers, and creates offences for actions such as crossing barriers and disrupting meetings.

Police Minister Jack Dempsey says locals who do not pass criminal history checks will be denied access to restricted zones and alternative accommodation will be provided at the cost of a few hundred dollars.

“We’re expecting 99 per cent of people being able to go freely once they’ve had their criminal history checks and balances in place.”

The bill prohibits a series of items from G20 zones, including weapons, cans, jars, whips, eggs, insects, reptiles, banners that measure larger than 100cm in height by 200cm in width, and remote-controlled planes.”

I wonder how many patrol cars will be out there armed with Mortein, or capsicum spray for anyone caught with eggs in their groceries.

I would suggest that Tony is more likely to need protection from the people he has screwed over inside the conference centre rather than from the Joe Blakes outside.

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