Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Use tanks to address our water shortage, not new dams

Andrew Bolt’s comments about the looming shortage of water for Melbourne indicate a degree of denial and ignorance about the fact that we live on the driest continent on Earth.

The primary issues concerning our water are that we don’t have a lot of it, we use too much and we waste too much.

Building more dams would be a very expensive stop-gap measure that would not actually improve the situation much. Water taken from another catchment area (such as Eildon or the Mitchell) would be robbing country consumers such as irrigators to send the water to Melbourne, as already happens with the Thompson catchment.

Water quality and quantity can be easily improved if we stop logging our water catchments.

Domestic water consumption can be greatly reduced by using rainwater. Our house in Surrey Hills is self-sufficient for water. We only use a small quantity of Melbourne water for drinking; we use tank water for everything else.

The Government is doing a commendable job encouraging less water wastage in gardens, but they need get serious and stop the ocean outflow at Gunnamatta, which wastes water that could be reused and pollutes the ocean.

Building more dams would be a foolish, expensive and ineffective distraction from the real solutions for addressing our long-term water usage and supply needs.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Howard's extremist anti-terrorist legislation smacks of fascism

I find John Howard’s draft anti-terrorist legislation to be both extreme and ineffective. It is highly questionable whether this legislation will prevent terrorist attacks, but it is quite clear that it will compromise basic human rights and freedom in Australia.

If this legislation is enacted you could be arbitrarily arrested and held incommunicado without charge if you were seen with a daypack and police judged you to be a potential terrorist, perhaps influenced by the colour of your skin.

You could also be shot and killed under the “shoot to kill” provisions, as happened to an innocent man recently after the London terrorist bombing.

The lack of safeguards and monitoring of these suggested new powers for police is very worrying, as is Howard’s attempts to conceal the detail from the public under the cloak of confidentiality.

These extreme powers, combined with a lack of accountability for the police who could exercise them, are simply inappropriate in a free and democratic country like Australia. You would expect to find powers like these in a fascist state. Are we now sliding towards this?

The ill-considered war and occupation of Iraq, based on lies about weapons of mass destruction, has fomented a generation of terrorists in Iraq and surrounding Arab states. The Howard government has actually contributed to a worsening of terrorism, despite all their rhetoric to the contrary.

Attempting to put out fires with petrol simply does not work. There is no easy way out of this mess that John Howard has contributed to, but a focus on peaceful resolution of conflict would be a good start.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Confused Environment Minister Campbell wants cattle to resume grazing the Alpine National Park

Ian Campbell seems to be confused about whether he is Minister for Environment or for Agriculture. His latest scheme to resume cattle grazing in Victoria’s Alpine National Park would result in continued damage to our alpine environment and electric fences throughout the park.

Kosciusko National Park has been protected from cattle for decades; the Victorian Government’s decision to protect our Alpine National Park is commendable and well overdue.

In addition, very few graziers enjoyed the special privileges of grazing their cattle in the Alpine National Park and their traditions are protected by their continued access to high country outside the park.

It is high time Minister Campbell focussed on protecting our natural environment rather than pandering to the questionable interests of minority lobby groups.

See also:

Federal plan restores grazing rights (ABC)

Alpine grazing plan rejected (HeraldSun)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Logging blunders unacceptable

Recent “logging blunders” by The Department of Sustainability and Environment (The Age, 3/10) clearly demonstrate yet again that the Department is not capable of managing their conflict of interest between protecting our forests and logging them too.

It is simply unacceptable that these blunders have led to the destruction of our forest that is supposed to be protected, which is home to threatened species such as the long-footed potoroo. With friends like this, our forest doesn’t need enemies.

In addition, breaches of the so-called “code of forest practices” have been occurring for years without adequate policing by the Department. No substantive action has been taken about breaches that have been detected over the last two decades.

Rather than conducting more audits, Environment Minister John Thwaites needs to taken urgent and immediate action and ensure that the Department is prosecuted for all breaches.

He should also reinstate separate management for our National Parks, old growth forests and water catchments that are simply too precious and important to be ignored by a department that is intent on logging at any cost.

Link to The Age article on this.