Fragmentation of Ecosystems and COVID-19

The year has been disrupted by a great plague – Corona Virus (COVID-19) – the largest in scope and proportion following the Spanish Flu that had killed a staggering 100 million people across the globe in 1918-1919. COVID-19, like the other previous airborne viruses, is highly contagious infecting the lungs.

Image: Hepatitis NSW

COVID-19, originated in Wuhan Province in China last year, is suspected to have come from a wet market selling animal meat infected by pathogens of disease-stricken bats.

Experts at the forefront of pandemic have reiterated zoonotic diseases come from human intrusion into animal habitats, including deforestation and ecosystem fragmentation and alteration. Animal farming, growing population, and frequent interactions with livestock also create an environment for a pathogen spillover that are circulating in wildlife animals to infect humans and vice versa.

Ecological drivers of pathogen spillover are recurrent — whether it is airborne, vector, or sexually transmitted. Over the decades, these spillovers come from birds, cows, monkeys, camels, pigs, mosquitoes – from birds flu to mad cow, dengue or malaria, Zika, HIV/AIDS, and the rest. The century has witnessed the spillover of avian influenza like SARS and MERS.

Governments, international organizations, and businesses are all willing to work out to look for that holy grail to contain spillovers. It requires huge investment in public health mapping out master plans including the discovery of a new vaccine. But instead of looking for a cure, humanity has to work together to prevent recurrent outbreaks and to minimise the impacts.

The UN’s Global Centre for Adaptation said:

The COVID-19 pandemic has tragically exposed the risks humanity faces and how unprepared we are to respond. People’s health, well-being, and livelihoods are all affected. These threats are multiplied by the growing impacts of the climate crisis — more extreme storms, droughts, heat waves, food crises, and diseases — which have not stopped. Vulnerable populations are hit hardest: The pandemic could drive 100 million more people into extreme poverty by the end of this year.

Here’s a Call to Action for a Climate-Resilient Recovery from COVID-19.

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Global Climate Strike sparks hope for humanity

Children at the forefront of global climate strike in Melbourne. (Photo: R. Dela Rosa Yoon)

Millions of people across the world joined the Global Climate Strikes held on September 20-27 to urge action to stop climate breakdown following the IPCC report in October last year saying that humanity has 12 years left to stop dangerous carbon emissions level. The strikes were the biggest climate protests in history, bigger than the march before the ratification of the 2015 Paris Agreement drawing people from all ages and demographics.The strikes were held ahead and in time of UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

Since the Paris deal, people have sustained momentum in calling on governments to step up action on reducing greenhouses gases in order to limit the global temperature to 1.5C, but the sight of young people rising and boycotting schools amplifies the urgency of the issue.

Sparked by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl, the youth movement has exploded to exponential numbers to include young people from all points of the globe – from the Pacific islands through Australia, across Asia and Africa, into Europe and onwards to the Americas.

About 185 countries where demonstrations took place had their individual targets– from rising sea levels in the Solomon Islands to toxic waste in South Africa, air pollution and plastic waste in India and coal expansion in Australia.

But the overall message was unified – a powerful demand for an urgent action to cut emissions and to stabilise the climate.

Who is Greta Thunberg?

She is a Swedish girl who, on August 20, 2018, started skipping school and staged her solo protest at the Swedish Parliament. Under her arm she carried a wooden placard with a handwritten words “SKOLSTREJK FOR KLIMATET” (School Strike For Climate). She did not realise that the single act would change her life creating ripples to change the course of history.

The Swedish media started noticing here. Others would soon to follow. International newspapers and magazines write about her.

After a few weeks, Thunberg became the icon of youth activism. Among the highlights include:

  • She addressed the European Economic and Social Committee in February

  • She spoke at a gathering to 25,000 at Berlin”s Brandenburg Gate in March

  • Talked to EU leaders at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in April

  • She became the cover of Time Magazine, May 27, 2019 Edition

  • Visited the Austrian World Summit in May where she met with Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen,

  • She was a guest at the US House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis September 18

  • She sailed to New York to attend the Global Climate Strike on September 20 before attending the Climate Action Summit two days later.

US President Donald Trump tweeted a video of her opening remarks and commented sarcastically: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Greta paid him back in the same coin, changing her Twitter profile to describe herself as “a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future”. Read more here.

What is the UN Climate Action Summit?

The Summit aimed at bringing together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations to develop ambitious solutions in six areas: a global transition to renewable energy; sustainable and resilient infrastructures and cities; sustainable agriculture and management of forests and oceans; resilience and adaptation to climate impacts; and alignment of public and private finance with a net zero economy.

This means ending subsidies for fossil fuels and high-emitting agriculture and shifting towards renewable energy, electric vehicles and climate-smart practices. It means carbon pricing that reflects the true cost of emissions, from climate risk to the health hazards of air pollution. And it means accelerating the closure of coal plants and halting the construction of new ones and replacing jobs with healthier alternatives so that the transformation is just, inclusive and profitable.

Snapshot for a child in a stroller. (Photo: R. Dela Rosa Yoon)

Action Porfolios

In order to ensure that the transformative actions in the real economy are as impactful as possible, the Secretary-General has prioritized the following action portfolios, which are recognized as having high potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions and increased global action on adaptation and resilience.

Youth Climate Summit

The UN Youth Climate Summit was a platform for young leaders who are driving climate action to showcase their solutions and to meaningfully engage with decision-makers on the defining issue of the time.

The summit, held on September 21, featured a full-day of programming that brought together young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who are committed to combating climate change at the pace and scale needed to meet the challenge. It was action oriented, intergenerational, and inclusive, with equal representation of young leaders from all walks of life.

(Photo: R. Dela Rosa Yoon)

For free photos on Global Climate Strike in Melbourne, contact The Green Journal AU.

More Links:

What is UN Climate Action Summit?

The United Nations General Assembly

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Hurdles for Adani’s Carmichael Mine

A signage at the Carmichael coal mine site. Photo: ABC

It is nearly a decade – a long walk for Adani pursuing to build the Carmichael Mine in Central Queensland. The greatest challenge against this mega-project is not about the growing unpopularity of coal in the face of global heating, but rather from the unabated resistance of Indigenous people’s groups and conservationists.

Adani is fighting hard. In February, the ABC revealed the company hired the law firm, AJ & Co since last year to act as a “trained attacked dog“. It is reported that it had drafted a commercial proposal called “Taking the Gloves Off” for this purpose.

News reports circulating this week said Adani has given the federal environment department five days to release the lists of people involved in reviewing its groundwater plans. The reports said Adani wants to ensure scientists from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia are not “coal activists” who could be bias in their plan assessment – triggering uproar among Australian public.

Greenpeace welcomes underwater investigation

The report has alarmed CSIRO staff representatives, who said it indicated Adani had “a deliberate strategy” to pressure scientists by searching for personal information it could use to try to “discredit their work”.

Sam Popovski, secretary of the CSIRO staff association, said it was the first time it came to their attention that names of scientists involved in a scientific process have been requested.

“We’re very concerned on behalf of our scientists at the CSIRO that a big company would go into looking at the personal lives of our members, including trawling their social media, in order to potentially discredit their work,” he said.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack comes to Adani’s defense. He said Adani told his department in February that it simply wants to know who is involved in the review. He said Adani seeks peace of mind knowing that it is being treated fairly and that the review will not be hijacked by activists with a political, as opposed to scientific, agenda.

Adani passed its final environmental approval despite controversies and construction work on its Carmichael Mine is expected to take off soon after nearly nine years of planning. More here.

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Related Stories: Adani’s Carmichael Mine


A Fight Against Mega Ski Resort in the Ukrainian Carpathians

When tourism excludes local communities and its environmental impacts, any mega project is under question. Local people and international environmental activists from 12 different countries attended the first public debate on Svydovets in one of the villages affected by a planned mega ski resort. The gigantic project threatens the primeval forests of the Ukrainian Carpathians.

International delegation visiting the primeval beech forest of Uholka-Schyrokyj Luh which belongs to the UNESCO Carpathian Biosphere Reserve in Ukraine (Photo: BMF)

(YASSINYA / UKRAINE) For the first time a public debate on Svydovets has been held on 16 March in Yassinya, one of three villages affected by a planned mega ski resort. Local people have spoken out against the gigantic project which shall be built in the heart of the Svydovets massif.

Valera Pavluk, a sawmill owner from Lopukhovo who started the local resistance, states: “With the international support of people from all over the world, the project promoters can no longer ignore our resistance.”

The public debate was attended by an international delegation of environmental activists from 12 different countries. It includes Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, USA, and Australia . Experience from similar projects in Bulgaria shows that local people are the last who can decide over the development of their village. Instead of mega ski resorts, the panelists promoted the development of a low-impact tourism that values nature and benefits local population.

60 people including 30 villagers from Yassinya and Tchorna Tisza participated in the public debate. Among the participants were representatives from the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the regional Association of Tourism and the university of Uzhorod. More than 70’000 people watched the public debate via Facebook livestream provided by Free Svydovets.

The plans for the Svydovets ski resort include 230km of ski slopes, 33 ski lifts and 390 apartment blocks in a practically untouched nature area. The Svydovets massif is a biodiversity hotspot in the Ukrainian Carpathians including 93 endangered species and entails one of the last remaining primeval forests of Europe.

Local people and international guests attending the public debate in Yassinya, Zakarpattia oblast about a planned mega ski resort on the Svydovets massif (Photo:BMF)

The Bruno Manser Fonds supports the Free Svydovets Group in their fight for the protection of this unique forest landscape. We demand full transparency from the project promoters including the publication of the detailed plans and a transboundary environmental impact assessment carried out by international experts.

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Toxic: what is rotten in the Murray-Darling Basin? It’s not just fish

[Welcome to 2019! Australia opened the New Year with searing temperatures, along with shocking news of a million fish — as old as a century — died in the Darling River in New South Wales.]

Dead fish sprawls and rot in the Darling River. (Photo: Debbie Newitt on Facebook | ABC News)

The devastating scene of thousands of dead fish in one of Australia’s most important river systems highlights a failure of governance and policy, Quentin Grafton, Emma Carmody, Matthew Colloff, and John Williams write.

Anyone who has seen the video of rotting fish along a 20-kilometre reach of the Darling River near Menindee Lakes in New South Wales must wonder how we got to this point. We witness grown men crying over dead Murray Cod – one of Australia’s iconic freshwater fish species – killed by insufficient oxygen in the water.

Yet our ‘leaders’ run away from what is really happening, and write media statements that fail to answer the real questions. Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), that oversees the Basin Plan and who is supposed to manage that river system, plays the ‘blame game’.

Sadly, it’s like 1991 again when the Darling River suffered from an algal bloom so devastating it prompted governments to rethink water management. That led to the National Water Initiative and, eventually, the 2012 Basin Plan. It was a plan that was supposed to ‘fix the Basin’.

This devastating fish kill is yet another ‘wake up’ call to our leaders: blue-green algae outbreaks, dead fish and dying rivers are not simply caused by the drought as is claimed by the NSW Irrigators Council. They are happening because we are extracting too much water from our rivers; failing to set limits on extraction that take into account climate change; allowing environmental water to be legally pumped; failing to introduce sufficient measures to protect water quality; and emptying the Menindee Lakes more frequently than is ecologically safe.

Add a prolonged period without rainfall to the equation, and it’s a time bomb waiting to happen.

This current tragedy was predicted and is no surprise. The river is like a piggy bank, if you keep taking money out without saving for the future you end up bankrupt – and just when you need it the most. At this time of drought, good water management ensures the resilience of rivers’ aquatic ecosystems. Clearly, this has not happened along the Darling River.

Some 1,200 billion litres of water were extracted for irrigation in 2014-15 in the Northern Basin (according to the latest data available) yet only a tiny fraction, or about 35 billion litres, actually arrived at Bourke from upstreamin the past year.

This is about a failure of water reform, and a dereliction of duty – the drought is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.

This is about how governments have failed to govern and to protect the common good of the people they were elected to serve.

The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, established in South Australia to investigate the operations and effectiveness of the Basin Plan, will report next month. But its Senior Counsel, Richard Beasley SC, has already concluded: “The implementation of the Basin Plan has been marred by maladministration. By that I mean mismanagement by those in charge of the task in the Basin Authority, its executives and its board, and the consequent mismanagement of huge amounts of public funds.”

Limits on water extraction, water quality measures, and the legal extraction of environmental water are currently governed by Basin state laws.

The legal regime in New South Wales has failed the Darling, Lower Darling, and Menindee Lakes on all three counts. Under the state’s laws, relevant water quality provisions are largely non-binding and poorly implemented while embargos on the pumping of environmental water may only be imposed at the discretion of the Minister (which rarely occurs).

The immediate trigger for the fish kill was inadequate stream flows, which caused surface water to stop mixing with the cooler bottom layer. Water heated up rapidly to over 30 degrees and then lost its oxygen – the warmer the water, the less dissolved oxygen that fish need to survive.

The fish kill featured in the video that has gone viral around the world is not even the first in the last month. Before Christmas, another devastating event wiped out some 10,000 fish. Yet, if there had been regular, carefully co-ordinated water-quality assessment it would have shown the sequence of events that led to this catastrophe.

And this has happened before. Ecologists who investigated the 2004 fish kill on the Lower Darling River recommended improved water quality monitoring and adequate storage at Menindee Lakes for downstream releases so as to improve water quality. Yet the agencies responsible failed to act on this advice.

What makes the tragedy even worse is that Menindee Lakes is believed to be an important spawning area for Murray cod and golden perch. As the fish from the latest kill decay, the substances they release will contribute to poor water quality downstream, storing up ecological problems for the future.

Those in charge of water management in the Basin were told what would happen as far back as 2010, and that the problem would get worse unless less water was extracted from rivers. They were also told what they should do to stop it from happening.

As certain parts of the Basin Plan come into force, jurisdiction over some of the causes identified above will shift to the Commonwealth. However, without some changes, it won’t get better.

So what is the solution? For a start, the Water Act 2007should be amended to improve governance arrangements and reduce the possibility of conflicts of interest undermining the lawful management of Basin water resources.

Next, the Basin Plan should also be amended to increase recovery of water for the environment, augment actual stream flows, and buffer against the impacts of climate change. Full accounting of where water goes in the Basin, including return flows from farmers’ fields, must occur, while controversial changes to the management of the Menindee Lakes need to be reconsidered and any water infrastructure projects that are claimed to deliver the equivalent of increased stream flows should be subject to rigorous cost-benefit analysis to ensure they deliver a net positive public benefit.

‘Water resource plans’ for each catchment, which come into force within the next year or so, must also include rules to maintain sufficient flows and water quality, and to protect environmental water from legal pumping.

The Oxford University Dictionary named ‘toxic’ as the 2018 word of the year. Its choice reflects our times and describes both our deteriorating state of the Basin and the failures of those who we elect and appoint to positions of authority.

Yet these decision-makers carry on as if all is going according to plan. How toxic is that?

This article was originally published at the Asia & the Pacific Policy Society.

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Adani battles harder for Carmichael coal mine

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The caption on India’s NDTV: “Adani’s plan to build one of the world’s biggest coal mines in Australia has been hampered time and again. “

Indian energy giant Adani is all out to push for its “Asian Century” dream as it announced it will go ahead with its Carmichael mine and rail project in central Queensland as soon as possible – defying oppositions.

Intense pressure from conservation groups have been spiraling over the years, but Adani said the project will finally take off soon with no time to waste. It says it has the cash to finance the project so bank funding will not be a problem. The announcement stunned the public knowing banks from Australia and beyond have ruled out lending the company due to its unfeasibility.

Mining lobby group the Minerals Council of Australia welcomed the news. CEO Tania Constable said it will benefit the Queensland and Australian economies — creating “thousands of new regional jobs and long-term investment in the mine and rail infrastructure.” Constable also noted the mine’s construction could open up the Galilee Basin to further coal development.

Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan congratulated the company liking Adani as “a little Aussie battler”. He said “so many have written it off but they just keep chugging along.”

Canavan’s statement has a seed of truth and lies. Back in India, Adani has announced the project has already got a green light from the traditional owners of land in Australia.

The Indian NDTV media said, “Adani on Saturday said its $21.7-billion coal mine project in Australia finally received authorisation by traditional land owners, which the Indian mining giant termed was a “clear mandate” that the community supports the venture.”

However, Adani Mining chief executive officer Lucas Dow said the mine will begin only on a small scale – reducing  to a capacity of 27.5 million tonnes a year — less than half the size of the approved project. ABC reports HERE.

Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani meets with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in December last year and gives an ‘iron clad’ guarantee to prioritise local workers. Picture: Cameron Laird/AAPSource:AAP

Gautam Adani with former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, right, and Martin Ferguson during a 2012 trade visit to India. Photograph: AAP


The Galilee Basin Traditional Owners reiterated Adani cannot go ahead without permission to dig on their ancestral lands. They said the Queensland Government has not extinguished their native title, which is crucial to the mine proceeding.

W&J Traditional Owner and lead spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said even if Adani’s announcement proves to be true, they do not have the final approvals or the financial close needed for the mine to proceed. They are also under investigation for environmental breaches on their country.

“It is a measure of Adani’s failure that they can’t obtain finance for the project they touted to our people. We rejected it when they first came to us and we reject it now, because Adani offers nothing of worth to our people and will destroy our country forever,” Burragubba said adding:

“We demand a guarantee from the Queensland Government they won’t now extinguish our native title for Adani. Queensland Labor has said they recognise that the registration of the Adani ILUA is contested and they acknowledge and respect our right to have our complaints considered and determined by a court.”

“We have an appeal before the full bench of the Federal Court. To act before this concludes would be to deny our rights and open the way for a grave injustice. Without our consent, the mine is not ready to proceed”. Read the statement HERE.

Stop Adani protest outside Kelly O’Dwyers Office, 2017. Photo: Australian Conservation Foundation

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) also released a statement opposing Adani’s announcement as it challenged elected representatives of the Australian Parliament.

Chief Executive Officer Kelly O’Shanassy stressed out the scientific evidence on the environmental impact of the project – not to mention the ongoing drought and bushfires in Queensland. She said, “Make no mistake. Many on both sides of politics understand burning the coal from the Adani mine and the broader Galilee Basin will be terribly damaging for our climate.”

The ACF has also lodged a challenge to Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price’s decision not to apply the water trigger in assessing water infrastructure for Adani’s proposed coal mine.

According to ACF,  Adani will take up to 12.5 billion litres of water – the equivalent of 5000 Olympic-sized swimming pools – from the Suttor River in central Queensland. Farmers and wetlands rely on the Suttor River, which floods and dries up at different times.

Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme project would supply the mine with water to wash coal, keep dust down and reduce fire hazards.

In September, an Environment Department spokesperson said: ”stand-alone proposals which involve only associated infrastructure, such as pipelines, are not captured by the water trigger because they do not directly involve the extraction of coal.”

O’Shanassy said ACF will argue the Minister made an error of law in not applying the water trigger. ACF will argue the pipeline is an essential infrastructure to service the coal mine and it would not be built at all if not for Adani’s mine. She stressed out, the water trigger should be applied.

O’Shanassy also said theACF is taking the Federal Government to court over its flawed process for assessing Adani’s plan for a water-guzzling pipeline to service its climate-wrecking coal mine.

The ACF lodged the documents with the Federal Court on December 5. ACF will be represented in court by barristers Kate Gover, Angus Scott, Neil Williams SC and the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland.

A signage at the Carmichael coal mine site. Photo: ABC

Related Stories

Federal Court overturns Adani’s Carmichael mine

Deutsche bank rebuffs Adani’s funding request

Big 4′ banks under pressure to rule out funding of coal projects

Indian groups keep stake in Abbot Point, reef dumping

Largest port to kill the Barrier Reef


Penan villagers drive away logging company

The Penan community of Long Tevenga in front of their blockade on the logging road. (Photo: BMF)

Long Tevenga/Sarawak,Malaysia – Stories like this do not come too often: villagers come face to face with powerful companies to chop down trees on their forests and they drove them away.

Penan villagers from the province of Borneo demonstrated that people power has prevailed as they won their case against a logging company attempting to extract timber from their forest.

The Penans have been protesting for two years against the logging operations of Lee Ling Timber Sdn. Bhd. They have barricaded the path to the forest and in August this year, their headman Peg Megut urged to strengthen their efforts: they built a house across the road leading to the forest.

Lee Ling returned to the blockade site on October 12, along with the police and representatives of the Sarawak Forest Department. However, the Penan showed how logging activities threaten their territorial rights in the area. They presented recently- completed community maps.

Negotiations between the Penan, the logging company Lee Ling and the Sarawak authorities on October 12, 2018. (Photo: BMF)

Blocked from trespassing their ancestral territory, the Sarawak Forest Department decided to send the logging company back home and stated that Lee Ling should not proceed with further timber extraction without the consent of the Penan village.

Last year, the Penan and the Bruno Manser Fund published a set of 23 maps documenting the Penan’s traditional forest and land use.

(Source: BNF)

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An Argument of Hope – Rise for Climate Australia navy ship sails through Sydney harbour to demonstrate climate action.

Despite the doom and gloom climate trajectory, climate warriors from the grassroots up have demonstrated their resolve not to give up hope fighting for future generations against worsening climate scenarios.

Major cities in Australia and the Indo-Pacific/Asia-Pacific have joined hundreds of thousands of people in more than 90 countries that took part in demonstrations last week to protest about the failure of politicians to tackle the global environmental crisis.

More than 800 events – from marches to street theatre, acts of civil disobedience to mini festivals – were held in towns and cities amid growing frustration at the lack of meaningful political action over the emerging climate breakdown.

Rise For Climate from the Arctic.

Nick Bryer from campaign group which organised the event said: “Politicians are failing. They are still protecting the interests of the fossil fuel companies over the interests of people, despite mounting evidence of the devastation these companies and this system is causing the planet.”

He said the day of global demonstrations was about people around the world “rising up and demanding a different cause of action, a different future which puts people and a sustainable future before the interests of these huge corporations”. Read the Guardian report here.

In the US, the Rise for Climate march was spearheaded by what organizers called the largest ever climate march on the US west coast. It snaked through the heart of San Francisco, came ahead of a climate change summit in the city the following week gathered mayors and business leaders from around the world.

PacificPAWA rising

The San Francisco march, which called for California governor Jerry Brown to end fossil fuel extraction in the state, attracted around 30,000 people, organisers said.

Activists added, “We are standing up to life destructive industries, from big oil to natural gas companies, that obstruct progress toward a healthy, sustainable and just society.”

Rising for climate in San Francisco, USA.

The Rise For Climate came after the Bangkok Climate Change Conference held on 4-9 September. Negotiators in the conference are reported to have made limited progress in advancing the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) which contains the guidelines required to operationalise the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, which are expected to be adopted at the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December 2018.

The Global Climate Action Summit was also held in San Francisco, 12-14 September inviting mayors globally to step up their climate action. The summit was a chance to demonstrate to the world that cities, along with businesses, investors, state and regional governments are at the forefront of working towards a climate safe, healthy, prosperous world for all.

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Is Australia’s ABC up for sale?

Members of the Liberal Party holding a vote for privatisation. (Photo: ABC)

Who can speak better for Australia’s commitment to a cleaner and more sustainable future than a reputable public broadcaster? It is no joke when neoliberal politicians have voted to sell it.

Australia’s ruling Liberal Party convened over the weekend and voted to sell the nation’s public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC).  The ABC has been labelled as “green activist”.

The move was backed by a free-market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), and has suggested the sale to a media mogul, a mining magnate or simply the “people of Australia who already owns it.”

High-profile delegates who attended the national convention in Sydney included Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Treasurer Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

The motion, supported by a majority of the 110 delegates, calls for the full privatisation of the ABC, except for services into regional areas that are not commercially viable, according to media reports.

Nothing is new. It has been a long-standing plan from the right-wing politicians to privatise ABC. It came to a head in time of the upcoming federal election set for 2019.

Back in 2014, the IPA denounced the ABC as a “green activist” and has accused the broadcaster for its “bias” in reporting on fossil fuels and renewable energy. It has commissioned iSentia to conduct media analysis of ABC’s reporting on Australia’s energy choices.

The iSentia data showed that the ABC treated the renewable energy industry highly favourable, the coal industry unfavourable, and the coal seam gas (CSG) industry highly unfavourable.

See the Green Journal AU’s earlier story here.

(Image: IPA)


The result of the vote did not come without a backlash.

The Australian Greens said in a statement the Liberal Party Council has finally opened a can of worms exposing Malcolm Turnbull’s secret plan to sell off the ABC.

Prior to the vote, Greens media spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Turnbull had a secret deal with Pauline Hanson from the One Nation Party known for its intense dislike to immigrants and refugees. Hanson-Young said Turnbull talked with Hanson to ‘whack off’ money from the ABC’s budget.

The Greens called the sale of ABC electorally toxic and completely out-of-touch with the Australian people.

“If the ABC is privatised, there will be no going back. The media landscape in Australia will be worse off, and The Greens will be fighting this move with the community every step of the way between now and the next election.

The Friends of ABC is set to march in the streets nationwide to stop the impending sale while GetUp! has re-commence a campaign to thwart any privatisation plan and it is mobilising a plan to fight back.

The Friends of the ABC are holding rallies all round Australia next month to protest the continual cutting of ABC funding, the harassment of a publicly trusted institution (which is by statute politically independent) AND this latest Liberal Party move to promote the selling off of the ABC”

ABC Friends National is calling for all Liberal Party voters to reject any sell-off of the ABC as being  both anti Australian and anti democratic.

“Australian Public broadcasting has an eighty-year history, and is supported by more than 80% of the community,” said ABC Friends National President, Margaret Reynolds adding, “It is not a plaything of the extremists who have dismissed public opinion in pursuit of their preoccupation with private profits.”

Playing Defensive

Following the vote, the Turnbull Government was scrambling to rule out privatisation of ABC. Some members distanced themselves from the vote, while Turnbull himself denied any plan to sell the public broadcaster.

“The ABC will always be in public hands. It will never be sold. That is my commitment. It is a public broadcaster. It always has been and it always will be,” Mr Turnbull told the media on Monday.

Government frontbencher Josh Frydenberg backed Saturday’s assurance from Treasurer Scott Morrison that the government had no plans for privatisation. Finance minister Mathias Cormann went further, saying the coalition will not be privatising the ABC

Nationals Leader and Deputy PM Michael McCormack has also distanced his party from the Liberal Party peak council, which voted to the privatisation.

“The Nationals does not, and has no intention of ever supporting the privatisation of the ABC,” Mr McCormack said in a statement.

IPA research fellow Chris Berg suggests options such as selling it to the stock market, media mogul, ABC staff or Australian taxpayers..Berg has co-authored a book with Sinclair Davidson why ABC has to be sold.

Early in May, IPA launched the book, Against Public Broadcasting, at the largest free market, pro-liberty conference in Asia Pacific.

Communication Minister Fifield, an IPA member quickly distanced himself from the book and tried to convince the public ABC would remain in public hands.

Promises Fulfilled

Back in 2014, it was a landmark victory for then Prime Minister Tony Abbott to abolish the carbon tax put in place by his predecessor, Julia Gillard, to tax polluters. It was his election promise. He was swift to fulfill his other promises — to abolish the climate change authority and disband the Clean Energy Fund.

The IPA claims itself as the world’s oldest right wing think tank representing big businesses with close links to the Business Council of Australia. It advocates free market economics, privatisation, deregulation, limited government, and a free market approach to environmental problems.

IPA is accused of being an instrument in forming the Liberal Party and is also a fund raiser for the party with major donors from the resource industry such as ExxonMobil, Telstra, WMC Resources, BHP Billiton, Phillip Morris, Murray Irrigation Ltd., Clough Engineering, Caltex, Shell, Esso, Electricity and Mining companies, and British American Tobacco among others.

See the Green Journal AU’s earlier story here.

Link to Asian Correspondent

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A New Direction

The Green Journal AU has been part of the movement to address urgent environmental issues of the time – thanks to all those involved in this collective endeavour. With all the issues confronting the planet and its inhabitants, there are vigilant citizens who are hopeful in finding solutions. This platform is now at a stage to shift focus on the solutions at hand. Following the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement in November 2015 by close to 200 countries around the world, there is optimism the movement is winning — without turning back. Watch for upcoming developments!

The Climate Reality Project, founded by Al Gore, is one of the forces to reckon with in spreading the reality of climate change, and has been expanding its reach to every region of the seven continents building leaders who at the forefront of the climate movement. (Photo: R Dela Rosa Yoon)