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We must end our command-and-control relationship with the environment if we are to arrest its destruction

Euan Ritchie comments in The Guardian (17.5.22) on the lack of action to conserve Australia’s natural environment. Yet, despite the magnitude of Australia’s environmental decline in recent years, the author suggests we still have the opportunity and ability to turn things around.

‘It’s now 2022, approximately a quarter of a century later, and we’re just days away from what I and many others regard as a make-or-break federal election. But why the urgency now, and how have we arrived at such a juncture? In short: successive federal and state governments, led by both major parties, have unequivocally failed us and the remarkable plants, animals and other species we share this continent with.

‘Scientific warnings have been routinely ignored, critical and timely reports haven’t been released. Scientists have been bullied, gagged and their work suppressed. Environmental laws haven’t been enforced and, in many cases, have in fact been weakened. Funding for conservation actions, already piecemeal, is now so pathetic as to be laughable. Stark comparisons demonstrate the patent absurdity: the federal government a few months ago announced just $10m in funding for only 100 priority species of Australia’s more than 1,800 listed threatened species.

‘Yet they still managed to find $4.5m for a whisky distillery and more than $100bn for submarines. If you fancy a dram, it’s bottoms up, but it’s bellies-up for many wildlife populations and ecosystems. “Everything is affordable if it’s a priority,” according to Josh Frydenberg.

‘… The real tragedy here is that such events were as preventable as they were predictable, if political leaders had listened and acted, if they had exercised courage, compassion, care and common sense. We are told our minister for the environment has no legal duty of care to protect children from the climate crisis. But surely, given such positions of importance, at the very least our leaders have a moral duty to help ensure a world that’s biodiverse and a climate that is safe?’

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