Dear Mr Abbott
Dear Mr Abbott,
Last year, when this insignificant country in the southern hemisphere went to the ballot to decide the party that would run the country, I knew you were not my choice. Your promises then, as now, rang as hollow as a blowfly in an empty VB can. Your policies read like the reactionary rhetoric of contradiction simply for the sake of opposing past policies. The bandwagon that carried you and your cronies, snake-oil salesmen, into town came with all the nationalistic and xenophobic grandiloquence historically reserved for incoming fascist regimes, promising miracle cures for the things you highlighted as important to the people of this nation, all the while goose-stepping your way into power. You made a parade of “your women”, showing just how much you loved them by flaunting your “not too bad looking” daughters as trophies, posed with a teenage sport team (while lecturing them about abstinence), and constructed a cabinet of old-school conservatives throwbacks, seemingly hand picked from the 1950’s. And when your party won the election, I knew we were in for a bad 3 years to follow.
But nobody could have guessed just how bad it would actually be.
As with most politicians, I’ve learned to take your words as metaphors for what you would like to do during your time in office. So often much of what is said on the campaign trail is lost or left behind once a government gets into power, and your is no exception. The only difference here is that you’ve kept your promises and done much, much more. Never in such a short period of time have I seen so many decisions made that blatantly pander to the media and big-business, all the while ignoring the people you’re supposed to represent, and the country you’re supposed to protect.
Case in point, ignoring the decisions being rushed through for dismantling of science and reportage of asylum seekers, ignoring the Great Barrier Reef and the backing of the shark cull in Western Australia, last Tuesday you gave an address to at the “forestworks dinner”, and with much aplomb you laid bare your lack of regard for the environment and its importance to the country, and the planet as a whole.
Garnishing the message of the speech with romantic rememberances of your childhood, a young Tony who paddled a hand made wooden canoe, a young Tony whose grandfather was a worker and a craftsman, a young blonde boy with the breeze in his hair and world ahead of him, as if to show the audience you were once a boy, as if to reveal your hidden humanity. Once you laid this groundwork, your real message came to the fore.
I came to appreciate the forest wasn’t just a place of beauty, but it was a source of resources; of the ultimate renewable resource, of the ultimate biodegradable resource.”
That’s right Tony, you came to understand that things of beauty, if useful, are there to be used and destroyed.
You painted a picture of a resource rich forest, one where craftsmen and artisans could reap the benefits of old-growth timber to create things of beauty and usefulness, like boats and ships. And chairs. A resource “locked up” by red tape and green tape, where these resources have been forbidden access by the public, except as a place to enjoy in their natural state. You told them that, in their jobs as timber workers and foresters that you see them as the “ultimate conservationists”, and applauded them as the people who could save these old-growth world wonders. You told them that your god had given this to the world to be used, a dominionist screed if ever there was one, and that environmentalists are the ultimate criminals for denying access to this “resource”. You told them that “We have quite enough National Parks, we have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest.“
But none of this is genuine, is it Tony? The timber harvested here will not be used to make houses, or ships, or chairs. In fact, up to 85% of it will be pulped, and sent to Japan and China for use in paper manufacture. Re-opening of pulp mills in Tasmania are going ahead, but need the support of your government if they are to be successful. And while this may be great for jobs in Tasmania (jobs that you promised us would come, yet unemployment has hit 6% under your rule), this misses the bigger picture, and one that any thinking Australian has seen; Once you destroy these forests, they will never return to their original state.
You applauded your environment minister Greg Hunt because he:
And this is part of your problem Tony. The environment is not here for us. We are here because of the environment. It is precisely this, your Christian dominionist worldview, where you take the literalist stance on environmental issues, and use the words of the bible to sate your conscience, it is THIS that makes you so very dangerous. What you preach, Tony, is the fire and brimstone version of world events, and you preach them in Old Testament soundbites, cherrypicked for your own goals, and hewn, sanded and polished like a dressed timber chair purpose built to sit in the study of industry.
But not all is above board, is it Tony? In your attempt to cut the “green and red tape” you so deplore, on the very same day you gave this speech it was announced that up to 200 jobs in the environment ministry were to be slashed. From this article in The Canberra Times “Senior staff at the department were told recently there had been serious reductions in funding for its Environmental Assessments division, which will soon stop carrying out assessments and start operating as an audit body for state environmental decisions.” That’s right Tony, rather than assessing the potential damages your decisions can cause, we will be looking back on them in retrospect and assessing the damage already done! It’s an ass-about way to conduct business, and it’s an ass-about way to treat these “resources” you keep spouting on about.
Tony, while I see what you’re doing with regards to the environment in this country, and I understand the financial underpinnings of your government’s decisions, I have to say, what you have shown in your “leadership” of this country is not only disrespectful to the natural beauty of Australia, but is liable to cause irreparable damage to World Heritage Listed forests, all in the name of short term gain and popularity wins. Your shortsighted “me now” attitude may be popular among those who stand to benefit (in the short term), but none of this, not one small piece it this, is sustainable.
But that’s not a worry to you is it Tony? We won’t be needing the world after Gabriel blows his horn to signify the rapture and Armageddon, now, will we?
It is clear to me now, Tony, that not only do you not possess any regard for your fellow citizens or the voices they put forward, but you are equally as blind to the plight that the world finds itself in with regards to human caused climate change. In fact, your decisions on Tasmanian forests and The Great Barrier Reef are directly adding to the compounding problem of climate change. Coal and forestry may give us jobs now, but when that is gone, when the last trees in the oldgrowth areas of Tasmania are gone, when the last lump of coal is extracted from the ground to run air conditioners in the sprawling homes of working-class rented houses in outer Melbourne, when the last drop of artesian water is poisoned by fracking in our outback regions and the last piece of coral in The Great Barrier Reef dies, what then Tony? What can we do then?
It will be too late.
But like I said, Tony, you don’t care about that, do you? That much is patently clear.
Yours in inexplicable horror and disgust,
Martin S Pribble