$50 Billion for Submarines and $50 Million for the Reef

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At the start of their election campaign Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt came to Cairns to announce $50 million in new projects to boost water quality, including efforts to keep sediment, fertilisers and pesticides off the reef.  This announcement was partly to reassure concerns over research showing 93 percent of reefs had been bleached and dire predictions that the Reef will be dead in 5 to 25 years.

A major problem for the Reef’s survival is that the Government has also promised hundreds of millions of dollars to promote land clearing, mega farms, mining and coal seam gas projects in North Queensland that will place greater burden on the Reef; plus they have recently approved the Adani mega coal mine near Bowen. Adani’s mine, which will be the biggest in Australia, will greatly contribute to global warming and drive coral bleaching and reef die-back.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) scientist and spokesman Sean Hoobin said in a statement, "We have viable renewable alternatives that don't sacrifice the 67,000 jobs the Reef provides and that will generate thousands of new jobs. It will take several billion dollars to save the Great Barrier Reef from water quality threats. A reef rescue plan, on the scale of the one forged for the Murray-Darling basin, is needed.”  WWF Australia has grave doubts the Federal Government will meet its current funding commitments to the reef or that the money committed will come close to what's needed to save it from agricultural run-off and sediment build up.

 

The decline of the reef is a clear warning of the threat we are facing now from biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. There is growing awareness that if we try to maintain the old socio-economic business model that requires growth and expansion to stay viable and profitable, we are doomed for failure. No socio-economic system can keep on growing and expanding in a finite natural environment. It will inevitably destroy our ecosystems, natural capital base and social fabric in the process of chasing an impossible dream.

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The myth of continual growth and expansion is enthusiastically promoted by economists, governments and corporations who are often interested only in their own short term agendas, profits and power. It is time to heed the calls to transition to a more resilient and stable ‘steady state socio-economic system’. Invariably, a point is reached in any region or ecosystem where there can be no more perpetual growth.

The problem with the ‘perpetual growth’ business model is also highlighted with the weapons manufacturing and warfare industries. The New York Times has recently reported that America has just passed a new milestone, with President Obama now being at war longer than any president in U.S. history. Obama has taken military action in at least seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.  One downside of increasing militarisation is that a record 60 million people were driven from their homes last year turning many into refugees seeking asylum in other countries. Australia as a military ally of the U.S is also obliged to match their ever increasing spending on the military as seen with the Government’s new order of 12 submarines from the French for $50 billion! 

This $50bn amounts to roughly $1/3 of a billion per Federal electorate.  If that amount of money was spent in our electorate we could begin the transformation to sustainable, organic, regenerative agriculture. We could protect the Reef, rainforest and our region from the environmental threats they are facing and have money left for infrastructure which would facilitate a better lifestyle, relationships and community for us all.