Signing Up For Extinction

“We’re worried that we’re going to see the extinction of [the Swift Parrot] within our careers—before the end of them” 1

Tarkine, west coastLast November, Prime Minister Morrison signed up for extinction. He put his name to the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) through which the Commonwealth devolves environmental responsibility to the states and washes its hands of the outcome. Unless overturned by a court or a future government, native forest logging in NSW will remain exempt from Commonwealth environmental laws until at least 2039, even as species like the Swift Parrot, Greater Glider and Koala are pushed to the brink.

How do we know that species are heading for extinction? Because the Commonwealth’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has identified logging in one form or another as a threat to more than 60 animals on the government’s own list of vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species. The direction of change for these species is inexorably worse as more are added to the list and those already on it are moved to higher threat categories.

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Green Anti-Immigration Arguments Are A Cover For Right Wing Populism

With the backdrop of dramatic decrease in migration to Australia in 2018 to a 10 year low, the population debate has reared its ugly head. In recent months Dick Smith has run an advertising blitz with the title ‘overpopulation will destroy Australia’ that compares population growth to cancer and recently took stage at Dark + Dangerous Thoughts at Mona arguing “no” for the proposition “Do We Let Them In?”. Dick Smith’s intervention comes as members of the far right continue to focus on immigration as a major issue. For example, the newly minted Katter’s Australian Party senator, Fraser Anning, praised the White Australia Policy in his inaugural speech and echoed Nazi rhetoric saying “the final solution to the immigration problem of course is a popular vote”. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also recently spoken about reducing Australia’s immigration intake. 

The two views, although, coming from different perspectives, one nominally in the name of “sustainability” and the other a throwback to colonialism steeped in racism and xenophobia, arrive at the same destination, a hermetical view of the world projecting fear onto an outsider. In Dick Smith’s view the outsider is coming to destroy the environment and it Anning’s version they threaten the “European-Christian” ethno-white state. 

The environmental rhetoric of the population debate might be alluring to progressives. Who would argue against clean air and clean water? Who wouldn’t agree that the current paradigm of growth is unsustainable? The problem is that an analysis based solely in population is superficial, creating solutions that end up marrying with the worst parts of Australian politics – far-right populism. If unchecked environmentalists focused solely on population threaten to be co-opted and driving a wedge in the environmental movement – because on the surface the arguments sound appealing.

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The Environmental Impacts Of UBI And A Shorter Working Week

Continuing our series on UBI: In this essay, republished from the Green Institute’s ‘Can Less Work Be More Fair?’ discussion paper on Universal Basic Income and a shorter working week, Professor Greg Marston argues that a UBI and shorter working week could play an important role in creating the conditions for a sustainable and equitable ‘good life’.

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