“How ironic is it that Scott Morrison argues people should ‘trust God’ rather than governments? Levels of trust have steadily declined over the last decade when the Liberals have held power federally,” writes political columnist MICHAEL MOORE.
THE recent “State of the Environment” report dispels any doubts about the need for a change of the federal government at the last election.
The revelation of the Morrison government’s appalling environmental performance is not really surprising. However, the decline in trust of politicians has also been highlighted.
The Morrison government cynically sat on the report from December last year until after the election.
The report was described by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek as “shocking”. In a talk at the National Press Club she outlined the loss of more Australian mammal species than any other continent, that Australia has more foreign plant species than native ones for the first time and in 2019 the Murray-Darling fell to the lowest levels ever.
One of the most “shocking” findings is that as recently as the last five years, threatened communities have grown by 20 per cent. The catastrophic fires have played a key role in increasing those endangered.
The report blamed climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and mining for accelerating the disintegration of the environment. These conclusions were drawn after conducting extensive research into poor land and water management, extreme weather events, high emissions, indigenous impacts, water temperatures and rising sea levels.
All of this was known when the report was handed to then Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, in December. Such appalling news required immediate and firm action. However, the Morrison government determined it was better to keep voters in the dark rather than have the matter debated as part of the election. They blatantly prioritised their own political interests before the interests of the people.
An attempt to defend the former environment minister by the current Liberal shadow Karen Andrews backfired. She argued that Ley “complied with requirements” and went on to say: “One of the key tenets of the Liberal Party is to protect the natural environment for future generations”. This report puts the lie to any such suggestions.
How ironic is it that Scott Morrison, who is still an elected MP, argues that people should “trust God” rather than governments? Levels of trust have steadily declined over the last decade when the Liberals have held power federally. The decline accelerated markedly during the last years of the Morrison government.
The former prime minister also told Margaret Court’s Victory Life Centre in Perth: “We trust in Him. We don’t trust in governments, we don’t trust in the United Nations, thank goodness. We don’t trust in all of these things, fine as they might be and as important as the role that they play.”
His reflections appear more like psychological projection than a sensible reflection on the damage that he and his colleagues have inflicted on the environment as well as levels of trust in politics. But at least he, and his fundamentalist colleagues, can put their trust in their God!
He told the congregation: “Whether it is on these existential issues like the world’s stability, or climate, or any of these things, don’t be anxious about it” and added, “God’s kingdom will come. It is in His hands. We trust in Him”.
No Scott! God will not fix the environment. We could not trust your government to make such a report public when it was necessary. Fixing the environment will take significant action by governments with the ball now in the court of Plibersek and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. They are not on their own. The independents, the Greens and the Jacqui Lambie Network all have a key role to play.
Plibersek outlined Labor’s agenda during her talk at the National Press Club. The challenge for them is that “we need to restore environments that have already been damaged and we need to actively manage our landscapes, oceans and waterways, and the critical places that we have vowed to protect so they don’t become run down through neglect”.
As a first step she announced the establishment of an Environmental Protection Agency. In contrast to the previous government she told the Press Club that what is needed is “a fundamental reform of our national environmental laws and empowering a new Environmental Protection Agency to enforce them”.
As a key insight into the community’s hope for a new approach, she added: “We need trust and transparency. Decisions need to be built on good data, to show the public how we’re tracking in real time”.
Michael Moore is a former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly and an independent minister for health. He has been a political columnist with “CityNews” since 2006. There are more of his columns at citynews.com.au
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