About Me

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Canberra-based naturalist, conservationist, educator since 1980. I’m passionate about the natural world (especially the southern hemisphere), and trying to understand it and to share such understandings. To that aim I’ve written several books (most recently 'Birds in Their Habitats' and 'Australian Bird Names; origins and meanings'), run tours all over Australia, and for the last decade to South America, done a lot of ABC radio work, chaired a government environmental advisory committee and taught many adult education classes – and of course presented this blog, since 2012. I am the recipient of the Australian Natural History Medallion, the Australian Plants Award and most recently a Medal of the Order of Australia for ‘services to conservation and the environment’. I live happily in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise surrounded by a dense native garden and lots of birds.

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!