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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Australians choose a rocky road

Sou | 9:49 AM Go to the first of 45 comments. Add a comment
Australians voted yesterday and, against the odds, decided to opt for speeding up climate change and destroying our wonderful land.

We had two main choices: a plan to invest in a "fair go" future setting the tone for the difficult years ahead; and a choice to defer that investment, wreck our agriculture, and transfer more wealth to the high end of town.

Australians chose the latter.

Don't get me wrong. The Australian Labor Party is far from perfect. It, too, doesn't fully appreciate the damage we are doing to our world. Nor does it fully appreciate the fragility of Australia and the dangers we face. Nevertheless, overall the choices it offered were a lesser evil than those of the Liberal National coalition.

The question is, should Australians and the world suffer because a slim majority voted against the well-being of farmers, fishers, foresters and everyone in our towns and cities? Should we stand by and allow the destruction of our rivers, grasslands, forests and precious seas because that's what slightly more than half the population voted for?

The answer is a partial yes. That's democracy. That's how our society works.

We chose to elect a government that promises continuing economic mismanagement, increasing the divide between rich and poor, delaying technological advances, depriving Australians of modern transport, and ruining our rivers and seas.

The part that is not "yes" is that we don't have to see this election as the "final nail in the coffin" of Australia. It is tempting to fall into the despair trap and believe our fate is sealed forever. It is understandable but unproductive to lie down and accept that we chose to wreck our world and continue on a path of destruction - and that's the end of that.

Now is the time to get up, dust ourselves off, and continue to push for responsible government and responsible action.

Remember that about half the country did vote for a fairer, more compassionate country. Half of us want to repair our damaged rivers, look after our farmland and forests, protect our remaining wildlife, and do what we can to save the reef. Around one in two Australians know that we will sooner rather than later need to work with the rest of the world to deal with climate migration. We will need to continue to produce food, feed and fibre for more people despite the worsening weather. To survive if not thrive we will need to work as a cohesive society, not the divided nation that people like the execrable Peter Dutton want.

That means we must continue to do what we can, but do it better. We need to continue to push for businesses and industries to take the lead where our federal government won't. We need to support the efforts of state governments to expand renewable energy and get off the fossil fuel train. And we need to demand accountability and openness from our politicians. We need to make sure everyone can see the impact of making the rich richer, the poor poorer, and the land and water degraded.

We might not succeed. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Australians yesterday chose a rocky road, maybe confusing it with the sweet. We could have chosen a slightly smoother (though still rough) path, but we didn't. Let's do what we can to show the world Australia can be better.