Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Inquiry into Australia's biodiversity in a changing climate

This little piece of extraordinary news just came to me via my Birding colleagues in Canberra.

If it were not for the fact that I am an old Bureaucrat, I would say this sounds like good news. But in my opinion, it is never Good News when they propose a wide ranging Inquiry like this.

It smacks of Tony Burke being sick and tired of being nagged by "Hard Line Greenies" about him not complying with the EPBC Act, allowing the likes of the 40000 Coal Seam Gas wells in Queensland, and the prospect of the Pilliga Scrub going as well.

 What room is there for "biodiversity" here?
This is a real photo of gas wells near Tara, Queensland

The "economic and resource" Ministers in Cabinet are far more powerful than the likes of Tony Burke anyway.

Also, as the old adge was in Yes Minister: - "never waste a good crisis"
Apparently the quote owes more to Rahm Emanuel and the early days of the Obama Administration - but the point is the same:
While the Live Beef Export issue consumes the Media, Government strategists will think "lets sneak this one out there, while nobody's watching".

Stand by for a major shifting of the Goal Posts, folks.
The scope of the committee’s inquiry shall include some case studies of ‘nationally important ecosystems’

If I didn't know better I would say you can kiss the Murray Darling Basin goodbye.

The Great Barrier Reef is already transitioning to a major Coal Seam Gas and Coal export shipping lane.
Image courtesy of Gladstone Observer. Stephen Mills Photography
To understand this issue, you have to realise that the image above is not an image of a pristine Mangrove Habitat, full of endangered species, it is a coastal bog, in need of being "fixed".

See what Santos have in mind for Curtis Island at Gladstone.
and they are only one of the many "players".
QGC (a wholly-owned subidiary of British Gas)
John Holland (a subsidiary of Leightons Holdings)
Kellog Brown and Root (KBR) (they're available now to help us out, now that they've "delivered" in Iraq.

I could go on and on, but frankly looking at all these corporate statements makes me feel sick. 
In my opinion, this Government is hell bent on destroying what ecosystems we have left.

House Standing Committee on Climate Change, Environment and the Arts
Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Inquiry into Australia's biodiversity in a changing climate

On Thursday, 2 June 2011 the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Hon Tony Burke MP and the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the Hon Greg Combet AM MP, asked the Committee to inquire into and report on Australia's biodiversity in a changing climate. The Committee invites submissions addressing one or more of the points listed in the terms of reference. Please refer to our brochure called preparing a submission for more information.
In order to facilitate electronic publishing, submissions should be emailed to, by Friday 29 July 2011. For those who do not have access to email, submissions can be mailed to the Committee Secretariat.

Terms of reference
Public hearings
Media releases

Comments to: The Secretary of the Committee on PH: (02) 6277 4580 or FAX: (02) 6277 4424
or e-mail:
Last reviewed 6 June, 2011 by Committee Secretariat
© Commonwealth of Australia 


Rohrerbot said...

I'm sorry. I feel your frustration. It's all about corporate greed around the world. It makes me sad to think that whomever is writing these reports can justify destroying areas of animals that are endangered or endemic to your area by switching a word or two.

Flabmeister said...

And the other problem with the current Government is that the alternative is worse!

That being said, those terms of reference are a masterpiece of obfuscation. They would allow just about any submission to be ignored if the Committee felt so inclined:
Does it deal with a whole ecosystem or just part of one?
Is the system of National importance or just a local issue?
Is the link to climate change proven
etc etc

Any answer of "no" gets the submission chucked out.

Yours in depression.


Miss Eagle said...

Great and informative post, Denis. Perhaps the world has ever been thus and worse but it is nonetheless frustrating and sad. I fear that Gladstone and environs already may be stuffed environmentally. It seems now that Bowen could be in the sights to go the same way. Work is forging ahead for Mackay - check BHPBilliton's BMA site Will the Barrier Reef survive? Is GBRMPA up to the task? And what are the implications for the billion dollar industry that is tourism in North Queensland?

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks everybody for your sympathy and supportive comments.
This could be so far reaching it might literally mean the removal of whatever flimsy and specific "protections" which apply.
Most of us rely on identifying a rare species, and lobbying to get it "listed". Then you find some bureaucrat accepts the company's offer of an "offset" - another patch of scrub which looks superficially similar to the bit you are trying to protect.
But if you check if the endangered species is there - usually it will not be - which means, as far as the plant or animal is concerned, the "offset habitat" is not suitable.
Try explaining that to a Minister.
I once sat ina room with the NSW Water Minister when a Catchment Officer promised they could put orange tape around all specimens of an endangered Orchid.
How do they do that with plants which live only for several years, are only identifiable when in flower anyway, and the old ones die and then replace themselves by seeding.
And they were offering to rely on orange flagging tape. Meanwhile they were proposing to dry out the "swamp" and claimed the swamp would still be there - just that it would be invaded by dry country shrubs, but it would still be the same swamp!
Tell that to the Orchids!
That is the mentality we are dealing with.

Angela Jansz said...

Too depressing, just too depressing Denis. Balancing the needs of business with the environment is one thing, but is there ever a case where that happens?
As an old (very wealthy) Malaysian man said to me recently, "Australia is Asia's granary and quarry, but don't worry dear, we like to come here for a holiday, so we will keep it nice"