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.

Politics

I’m still spending a bit more time on Facebook than I really should but it does mean I’m still collecting some clever and thought-provoking graphics. It’s a bit like beachcombing (but without the sunshine and fresh air), actually, in that if you pick up enough shells and pebbles you can make pretty patterns with them, or with a selection of them. It’s also like beachcombing in that you hardly ever know where your finds have originally come from; as before, I would like to give the creators of these graphics credit (and link to their sites) but I simply don’t know who they are.

These three go together quite interestingly, I think:

lies

do nothing

first they ignore

Election mythbusters

I try to stay away from politics on Green Path but now, two weeks out from a federal election, I am so … pause to choose polite word … annoyed by the lies and misinformation coming from pretty well everyone in the public arena that I want to share sources for some closer-to-honest data.

Lies and misinformation

It’s not just my opinion. Here, for instance, is Clementine Ford on the ABC’c opinion pages:

“Whatever the reason, the News Ltd press has been relying heavily on the idea that ‘everybody’ in Australia is sick of the Labor Government and their apparent mishandling of the economy, and ‘nobody’ will be voting for them this September.

The result is that, in a supposedly democratic country, we have an election campaign being conducted not by a political party but by the tabloid news company invested in their instalment. Worse, that tabloid news arrogantly disregards the proportion of the population who hold contrary views, deciding that such citizens are invisible and therefore undeserving of representation in a supposedly unbiased news force. Regardless of your political leanings, this is a monstrous abuse of journalistic power that should be recognised as such.”

Here, for instance, is an anonymous Brisbane cafe owner’s protest.

And both Labor and Liberals have stuffed deceptive material through my letterbox. Labor letterboxed us with a leaflet demonising Abbott by saying he’ll do what Campbell Newman has been doing (which I suspect may be true) but didn’t put their name to it. In very small type on the back of the card is an “authorised by” name which gooogle easily tracked back to ALP Qld HQ. The local Liberal candidate sent us “Important Postal vote information” in an envelope with a similarly anonymous return address and, inside, a form letter asking us to vote for him. Clive Palmer, meanwhile, has sent everyone in Townsville a DVD – in his own name but (in very very small print), “printed by Queensland Nickel in Dong Cheng, Beijing, China,” which is a lovely example of his jobs-for-Aussies rhetoric in practice.

Enough!

Mythbusters for the election countdown

(1) Factcheck from the ABC

(2) Facts Fight Back from The Australia Institute

These two sites are very similar in intention: pollies make claims, and the sites check them. The Australia Institute, for those who don’t know it, is a leftish think-tank with a focus on economics.

(3) Vote Compass is a new ABC initiative this election. It is modelled on a Canadian original and is both an information tool for voters wanting to see which party matches their own views most closely, and a massive (half a million respondents) opinion poll.

If you do their survey you will end up with a little chart showing you where you are located on the political spectrum and where the parties are located in relation to you and to each other. This example represents the results for a typical member of the leftie-arty-greenie demographic I identified here a year ago:

vote compass result

I wonder why the centre point of the graph is placed where it is? Is the graph centred on the position of the average voter, or is there some other logic? And what about the minor minor parties – Katter’s backblocks mob and Palmer’s Titanic enterprise? Family First and One Nation?? I believe most of them would be in the lower right hand quadrant but it would be nice to see just how much lower and further to the right. Those minor quibbles aside, it’s a useful tool.

(4) GetUp! current campaigns give a pretty good idea of where the organisation stands (somewhere left of both Liberal and Labor) and its blog presents the facts that drive them, e.g. on asylum seekers policies

(5) The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) runs the the election and has a list of candidates at http://www.aec.gov.au/election/who-are-the-candidates.htm which includes contact information. If you want to tell your local candidates something, ring them or send them an email – before the election, since they will be less inclined to listen afterwards.

Sigh.