Date: Sun, 23 Nov 97 15:50:00 CST
From: rich%pencil@LISTS.PSU.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Subject: GL: Oz: Howard's policies worst attack on the env. in 30 years
Howard's policies: "Worst attack on the env. in 30 years"
Tim Doyle interview with Emma Webb,
in Green Left Weekly
17 October 1997
Dr TIM DOYLE is a founding member of the Environment Institute of
Australia, founding president of the Ecopolitics Society, a
founding member and current secretary of the Ecopolitical
Association of Australasia and a member of the Political Studies
Association of Australasia. He is a senior lecturer at the Mawson
Graduate Centre for Environmental Studies at the University of
Adelaide and was elected president of the Conservation Council of
South Australia (CCSA) on October 17. Doyle spoke to Green Left
Weekly's EMMA WEBB about environmental politics in Australia
Doyle, who has been active since the late '70s in many campaigns,
including Antarctica, wet tropics, uranium and the urban
environment, described the Howard government's policies as the
worst attack on the environment in more than 30 years.
"It is absolutely appalling. They don't even want to talk about
green issues -- [environment minister] Robert Hill talks about
'brown' issues instead. They advocate free-market solutions to the
environment crisis. This view that the environment is good for
business and vice-versa is just waffle. I don't believe the free
market can monitor itself. There is still a role for government to
actively involve itself in environmental monitoring, regulation
and finding social solutions. Solving the environmental crisis is
not just about efficiencies, it's about much more fundamental
"It was the Labor government that opened the door for a lot of
these attacks on the environment now. Environmentalists shouldn't
have any illusions in, or false allegiances to, the ALP."
Doyle strongly supports actions and campaigns to oppose the
government's anti-environment policies, such as the Australian
Conservation Foundation's (ACF) national day of action to protest
the Australian government's stance on greenhouse gas emissions
planned for November 30.
"By global standards the Howard government lags severely behind on
this issue. Not only is the government refusing to commit to
binding greenhouse gas emission cuts, it is actually arguing that
Australia should be able to increase its emissions! With the Kyoto
climate conference in December, now is the time for
environmentalists to take action and put demands on the government
around this issue.
"There is a huge public sentiment against the government's
position. As many people as possible need to be involved in
organising, building and participating in the national day of
action. Here in Adelaide there is a committee with a range of
different organisations and individuals working together to
organise and build the day", said Doyle.
The Howard government has attempted to silence its critics by
"taking away funding from their critics in the green movement.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) lost all its funding, the ACF lost
one-third, and so on. The government is sending a message that if
you are even remotely critical you will lose your funding."
This is part of the reason for the different responses to the
Howard government from the environmental peak bodies, says Doyle.
"They're in survival mode at a time of funding cuts. Some have
taken a more courageous line than others". The political climate
requires political courage rather than political retreat, he adds.
"I see a role for the World Wide Fund for Nature-type
organisations which can work with conservative governments and
corporate interests. I also see the need for the FOE-type
organisations which work in active opposition to government and
Doyle would like to see the CCSA take a more social approach to
environmental issues. "There has been a lot of focus on non-human
conservation in the past. I will be working to include the human
environment -- where people live and work -- as well as the
"Another priority", said Doyle, "is finding non-government sources
of funding". He explained: "To gain political and economic
independence, funding must be derived from sources other than
government. However, when we talk about being less reliant on
government that is not to say we are becoming more corporate. I am
vehemently opposed to offering corporations associate membership
-- this has been a disaster for non-government organisations in
"The bottom line is an ethical one and this limits the sources of
funding. We are currently doing an analysis of the best way to go
about raising funds."
Doyle believes the CCSA needs to change its approach to
volunteers, staff, committees, members and groups that use the
council and become a more grassroots, less top-heavy organisation.
He also wants to see the council take broader political action.
"The council needs to take different political pathways than
merely lobbying government. It has to be more diverse in its
political responses. One of things we will be doing more in the
future is building alliances with unions, universities, indigenous
groups and so on", he said.
"Our campaign priorities at this stage will be uranium,
greenhouse, Coongie Lakes and defending the CCSA from legal
proceedings over the Hindmarsh Island campaign", he added.
Doyle believes that at a time when the environment crisis is
escalating and the green movement is under attack,
environmentalists need to develop political resilience. This was
the theme of his recent address to last month's Ecopolitics
Conference. "A resilient ecosystem can come back after a major
disturbance. Resilience is about being around for the long haul."
This article was posted on the Green Left Weekly
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