Friday, December 7, 2012

COAG letting foxes guard the hen house

The world has an interest in pollution, species preservation, the preservation of environmentally unique areas and so on. As the world becomes a global village, everyone has an interest in who defecates in the local stream.

In short, as population pressure makes human impact on the natural environment more severe, it is precisely the wrong time to divest decisions about the environment to more local authorities.

Yet this is precisely where Australia is headed.

At the behest of that well-known guardian of the environment, the Australian Business Council, the Australian government is about to surrender a great deal of its environmental decision-making to those other environmentally sensitive creatures, the state governments. And it is being done through the processes of the Council of Australian Governments - a secretive body far too remote from voters.

More recently, should Premier Colin Barnett's WA Environmental Protection Agency decide whether James Price Point, 60 kilometres north of Broome, be pegged out for the world's biggest liquefied natural gas plant?

Why would it matter that four out of five members of the EPA board were ruled out because of conflicts of interest with the mining industry? As Barnett has put it: ''There is nothing untoward in this … Western Australia's a relatively small community. You will find people that have connections in history with various companies and projects.'' Not a glimmer of shame or embarrassment.

And Barnett unwittingly highlighted the central flaw in allowing the states to have the final say on development - the state's ''relatively small community''. Precisely. Local interests will always trump more important national and international concerns.

1 comment:

  1. PAUL Keating speechwriter Don Watson says the former prime minister's Redfern Park address on reconciliation has "fixed nothing of a practical kind" for Aborigines.

    Speaking ahead of the 20th anniversary of the speech on Monday, Watson said governments had lacked the courage to effectively tackle Aboriginal disadvantage and bureaucracies had been "incompetent and corrupt".