We recently discussed the disturbing allegations directed against an Australian MP who dumped pollutants into the Great Barrier Reef with impunity. The case raised questions over how powerful mining interests are overwhelming environmental concerns, even in the iconic Great Barrier Reef. Now, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has shocked many around the world with a speech to the lumber industry that not only promises to stop the establishment of any new national parks but commits his government to advancing the interests of the industry.
Calling the lumber companies and their workers “the ultimate conservationists,” Abbott pledged a moratorium on more national parks and would not allow “further lockouts of our forests.” One specific gift will be the delisting from a world heritage of 74,000 hectares of forest in Tasmania (left). Mr Abbott declared the area too degraded to be included and thus promises to degrade it more. To make sure that such areas are put to the saw and axe, Abbott announced the creation of a new Forestry Advisory Council to support the industry. It will be co-headed by Rob de Fegely, president of the Institute of Foresters Australia.
Abbott also denounced “the Green ideology, which has done so much damage to our country over the last couple of decades.” He heralded a new coalition to fight environmentalists and noted that “I’m pleased to see that there are some sensible Labor Party people who don’t buy it either.” He explained that God wanted us to exploit these resources and not just leave them in their untouched natural condition:
“Man and the environment are meant for each other. The last thing we do – the last thing we should want – if we want to genuinely improve our environment is to want to ban men and women from enjoying it, is to ban men and women from making the most of it and that’s what you do. You intelligently make the most of the good things that God has given us.”
It appears that nothing pleases God more than a logging road and a clear cut mountaintop. Of course, not cutting down a forest hardly means that you are not “enjoying it.” Indeed, millions come to Australia to hike and see such areas (as opposed to that wonderful trip down logging road to thrill in the vision of human industry). What is interesting is that Abbott and this Labor supporters formed a government with the support of one Green MP and three independent MPs in winning the 2013 election. That Green MP must feel a tad foolish at this point.
With that Abbott announced that his government was now a “friendly country” for the lumber industry. At a time when the world is moving toward greater protections of pristine areas, Abbott has placed Australia on the opposing course of development. The loss of Australia in the global efforts of conservation and protection is significant since countries like China continue to encourage Third World nations to open up their own resources and areas for short-term benefits. We recently saw similar moves in Canada in the lifting of protections from the Yukon territory. With the demonization of the “Green ideology,” these Western leaders could accelerate the damage to their own country and will likely accelerate the losses in poorer nations looking for the infusion of money from countries like China as was the case recently in Ecuador.