About Me

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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation. In January 2018 I was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for 'service to conservation and the environment'.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Apology from Australia

This is not my usual natural history posting - in fact I'm still in Western Australia, about to start the 4000km drive home tomorrow. I don't have time or facilities for a 'real' posting, but events here since I last wrote have driven me to say something to the many people in many lands who continue to surprise me by reading my offerings.

The newly elected government of Australia has already filled me - and many others I know - with shame and embarrassment. This is not the place for a polemic, but I do want to offer my apologies, as an Australian, to those who are doubtless puzzled and even offended by unfolding events here. Both major parties sought, during the election campaign, to outdo each other in abnegating Australia's moral and legal responsibilities to the displaced of the world, and this is to our deep shame. In years to come I have no doubt that a more enlightened parliament will offer an apology to those victims, as recent ones have to 'stolen' Aboriginal children.

More immediately relevant though to those who read this blog is the perplexing and alarming formal rejection of science; there is to be no Minister for Science in the new cabinet (composed almost exclusively of middle-aged white men), a concept which I find utterly bizarre. More directly they have already abolished the independent Climate Commission, the only independent source of information and advice on this most critical of issues - bloody-minded madness. There is to be no Minister for Higher Education, apparently another deliberate move towards dumbing down the country.

The future of biodiversity management can only be viewed with despondency.

This is not why you read this blog, I know, and I won't be carrying on with this theme in future. Please know however, that there are many of us here who do not feel represented by this lot, and who reject such 1950s 'thinking'.

Meantime, back with a normal posting on Tuesday 1 October, as promised!


Susan said...

I had a conversation here in France with a young French mechanic of North African background just after the election. He told me the one country in the world he would choose to move to was Australia. I pointed out that the new government would not welcome him and he was shocked. He queried whether 'people like him' would not be welcome even if they came to work and were not refugees. I used the same words as you have in my response -- I am ashamed of how Australia is treating refugees and it is unquestionably racist, so I suspected he would not be welcomed no matter what his skills.

We had quite a few Australian clients over the election period. Several of them had clearly decided to leave the country deliberately to coincide with the election and were terribly disheartened by what was going on. None of them wanted to be associated with the new government.

Flabmeister said...

I am sure that in 10 years time there will be a popular game of picking the worst decision by the Abbott hegemony. I have said 10 years because I cannot see the ALP knocking this mob over in 1 term especially giving what I have to say next.

My early contender for worst decision is banning the release of any information about the arrival of asylum seeker boats. This has clearly been done to prevent information flowing which shows the Government has failed in its big populist scheme of stopping the boats. Presumably information about the environmental risks of decisions such as digging up the entire country to support the mining industry will son be included.

What makes this particularly bad is that the media seem to have all gone along with it. Why haven't they hopped on a plane to Christmas Island and Cocos-Keeling to see what is going on? There has been only one story on this, from the ABC and I am sure they have been starved of funds so they can't afford a plane fare. However I'd have thought a (free!) email to the Administrator of Christmas Island - hardly a right-wing nutter - might have generated a bit of interesting information.

Flabmeister said...

For the benefit of other readers, the ABC has just posted http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-23/detention-asylum-seekers-border-control-sovereign/4974016 which is relevant to the final sentence of my previous comment.