Vote for the environment

My focus here on Green Path is the environment, both as something endlessly fascinating and as something worth protecting. I try to stay away from politics but it’s hard to remain silent during an election campaign so here’s a round-up of news and comment, beginning with local action.

Electoral activism, local and national

Vote for the ReefFight for the Reef is keeping the news flowing on FB and encouraging everyone to use their “Vote for the Reef” logo (left) as a social-media profile picture for the duration of the campaign.

GetUp! and The Wilderness Society Queensland are campaigning vigorously but Wildlife Queensland was still, unfortunately, in holiday mode when last I checked.

Local candidates explain their environmental policies

NQCC  (find them on Facebook)  is hosting Environment and the Election forums in two of our local electorates as follows:

  • Townsville
    Tuesday 20 January at 19:00
    Townsville Yacht Club, 1 Plume Street, City
  • Mundingburra
    Wednesday 21 January at 19:00
    Jubilee Bowls Club, 13 Burdekin Street, Mundingburra
  • A planned forum in Thuringowa for Thursday 22 January has been cancelled.

Save-Solar-TsvThere is also a forum organised by the Australian Solar Council, at which candidates and other politicians will present their parties’ positions on solar power. It runs from 6 to 8 pm on Thursday 22 January; click on the thumbnail for more details.

Cairns readers may like to get along to CAFNEC’s Reef Hour Election Special to meet local candidates, while their blog post, Our Great Barrier Reef is an election issue, is relevant to all of us.

Media

The Brisbane Times came out with an excellent overview of the key election issues on Jan 7:

Queensland Election 2015: The state of play

… If there is a uniform swing of 8 per cent, Cook, Townsville, held by John Hathaway (4.8 per cent) and Thuringowa, held by the LNP’s Sam Cox also near Townsville (6.6 per cent) are under siege.

If the swing against the LNP in North Queensland is higher than 8 per cent, Barron River on the northern outskirts of Cairns (9.5 per cent), held by Michael Trout and Local Government Minister David Crisafulli’s Townsville-based seat of Mundingburra (10.2 per cent) could also be in trouble.

Local campaigns influence voter outcomes more effectively in regional area and pundits expect the swing against the LNP to be lower in North Queensland than in South East Queensland. …

Most pundits expect the swing against the LNP will be higher in South East Queensland – where the LNP has 14 seats with a margin of less than 8 per cent – than in North Queensland.

But that is without considering how the environmental issue will affect results. A hard-hitting article in The Guardian makes up for that:

The Queensland election campaign might well turn on three issues: the environment, bikies and privatisation. On all three, the Newman government has polarised Queensland voters and put policy daylight between it and the Labor opposition. …

Environment

Campbell Newman’s regulatory reforms in favour of large mining corporations – most notably the removal of most people’s legal right to object to mining developments – go further than even the excesses of the Bjelke-Petersen white-shoe era, the veteran environmental activist Drew Hutton has argued …

It seems possible to me that the LNP’s Reef-trashing policies will attract enough opposition up here, where the Reef is central to our identities and to tourism employment, to make the swing greater than the state average.

Vote Compass is an ABC initiative. A questionnaire ascertains your own opinions and the software behind it compares them with the stated policies of the parties.

The primary result is a neat little chart placing you and the parties on a grid (social liberal-conservative graphed against economic left-right; more detail here, where I described it during the last federal election campaign) so that you can see which parties’ policies you’re best aligned with. There will be few surprises for most politically literate people but I must admit that I was surprised to find that the Katter Party was closer to Labor and the Greens than to the LNP.

The secondary result is that the ABC acquires masses of high-quality survey data (e.g. 30 000 respondents in the first day) which will contribute to accurate news about the campaign as it develops.

National Day of Climate Action – Townsville

hundreds of people on lawn
The crowd on Burke St headland, the Strand

The National Day of Climate Action was a great success nationally and Townsville people played their part in it. We gathered on the Strand at 4 p.m., wearing the “hot, bright” colours requested by  GetUp!, and listened to speakers telling us about the multiple threats posed by climate change. Organisers counted over 450 people which on a per capita basis is about as good as Melbourne and, in fact, the national average. Congratulations to GetUp! and local organisers NQ Conservation Council.

Band and audience
Live entertainment between speakers

Halelujah BABY raised the energy levels with some very appropriate songs and there were some great individual contributions – this sign, for instance, and the small group of folk musicians (harp, recorders and fiddle) playing on the edge of the site.

Rain was threatening from 3.30 onwards and started falling about 5.00 as we were coming to the end of the programme but this is Townsville so the rain is warm and we still walked from the headland down on to the beach for a group photo. I might have said “marched” but we were far too happy and relaxed for that. We were serious about climate change and getting some action to address it, sure, but we were also happy to be there together and see such a large group of like-minded people. It’s all too easy to be discouraged by the indifference of those around us at work or in our social circles but this rally affirmed the community support that environmental action does have.

There is a saying amongst politicians that each letter they receive on a given issue is worth ten votes. How many votes is each participant in a rally worth? Surely at least twice that. Ewen Jones, can you afford to lose 9000 votes next election?

Didn’t attend but want to be heard? You can still (as of the time of writing) sign the petition.

National news for the National Day of Climate Action