A few months ago, I left my home in Adelaide and travelled up to Maules Creek, New South Wales. I’ve never been much of a wanderer, but when I heard that Whitehaven was working on the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia in the middle of the Leard State Forest, I realised that things were pretty serious.
Once in a lifetime a truly game-changing event reshapes global society. Think back to 1833 when the British Parliament finally bowed to public pressure and the Slavery Abolition Act was passed. Now in our lifetime Polly Higgins is campaigning tirelessly to do for Earth Rights what the abolitionists did for Human Rights. And the goal is in sight.
Neo-liberalism is a hungry beast and this 21st Century strain of capitalism is shaping the agenda for control of Aboriginal lands.
You only have to listen to Professor Marcia Langton’s Boyer Lectures on ABC Radio or read Noel Pearson’s sermons on acquisition to see how this virulent form of free-market fundamentalism has gathered influential adherents, including policy makers in both political parties.
Australian Government policy is heavily influenced by neo-liberalism through its extraordinary emphasis on managing access for mining companies to resources on Aboriginal lands. This involves controlling what is still perceived as ‘the Aboriginal problem’ and forcing a social transition from traditional values and Cultural practice to ‘mainstream’ modernism of a particular brand. It also involves displacing many Aboriginal people from their traditional lands and concentrating them in ‘growth towns’.
Federal deficits, creating green jobs, austerity vs stimulus packages; how do you balance it all out? There are some important lessons to be learned from Europe’s recent experience.
In issue 464 of the New Internationalist magazine, celebrated author Susan George gives a spirited lashing to European leadership, accusing it of being entirely subservient to the desires of finance and the largest corporations. “European leadership is brain-dead, ignorant of economics and needlessly committing economic suicide” she writes.
polyp.org.uk – New Internationalist magazine cartoonist
It’s simple really. If you want good things to happen, invest in them. If you want to stop bad things happening, cut off their funding.
But that’s not yet occurring. Banks, super-funds and governments keep investing in activities that we know are rapidly destroying the life-support systems of our planet, and it must stop.
That’s why the Bill McKibben Tour this week is so powerful and so important. Bill is a passionate advocate for divestment – getting out of investments in fossil fuels – and his presentations are clear and memorable. If you know a banker, a superannuation fund employee or a government worker, invite them to join you at one of the events on the Bill McKibben Do the Maths roadshow. You can book now for live events in Canberra – June 5th (with internet simulcasts to Adelaide, Hobart and Perth), Canberra National Press Club – June 6th, Melbourne – June 7th and Brisbane – June 9th. Continue reading →
Here’s a big thank you to the team from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency who rounded off a solid year of tortuous negotiations with some progress at COP18 in Doha. Of course we’re disappointed that there’s such slow global action on the climate crisis that is unfolding, but we should still celebrate the huge effort being put in by Climate Change staff.
The tough reality is that within two decades we need to stop burning coal, gas and oil. We simply cannot accept the 4 to 6 degree temperature rise that is likely by the end of the century if we don’t move to a zero-emissions economy. But moving to zero-emissions won’t happen for as long as governments and international negotiations are in thrall to the fossil fuel industry. Continue reading →
Danny Dorling, The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality,
New Internationalist, Oxford, 2012, 176 pp, www.newint.org/books/
Reviewed by Frank Stilwell
New Internationalist has published a series of small books on controversial issues such as world population, world poverty, world food, world health and women’s rights. This latest ‘No-Nonsense Guide’ focuses on equality, making a strong case for this goal to be a much higher priority in public policy and strategies for social progress.
There is a long tradition of arguing for greater equality – in income, wealth, education, social opportunities and, of course, in human rights. One thinks, for example, of classics such as Richard Tawney’s Equality, the writings of British social reformer Richard Titmuss and the more recent books by Richard Wilkinson that describe the damaging social costs that arise from extreme economic inequalities. That these three writers are all called Richard is an odd coincidence – the more important thing that they have in common is a commitment to egalitarian social reform.