What a spectacle we had during the Gippsland by-election campaign. All candidates (except the Greens) were grovelling in front of the logging and coal industries. Michael O’Connor (CFMEU)huffed and puffed on radio for one 30 second news grab and the next day pollies were buckling at the knees pledging their loyal devotion to logging and coal burning.
The, Nats, ALP and Liberal Parties all ignored the wishes of the wider electorate and fell in behind the two worst climate destroying industries in Australia.
The CFMEU also demanded that any carbon-trading scheme would not affect their jobs. They know that forest protection is THE most effective measure that can be taken to reduce CO2. Gippsland’s coal industry is also demanding that any new carbon trading scheme exempts them!
Brendan Nelson said the Labor party was hijacked by greenie latte sippers that find it fashionable to attack people who work in the logging industry. There was certainly no sign of that as the ALP disappeared up the backsides of the forestry union.
EEG, GEG and the Latrobe Valley Climate Action group sent an environment questionnaire to all five candidates three weeks before the election. Only the Greens responded. So we appropriately beat the others up in the media. They’d thumbed their noses at thousands of voters, not just three enviro groups.
There’s been no change of attitude towards our environment since Ironbar Tuckey was in control. The ALP sacrifices our forests as union pacifiers and exchanges for political donations. The only thing that’s being ‘sustained’ is the parties’ submission to the logging industry.
Regardless of what political party you support, the June by-election was a chance to raise important environment issues including forests.
But the Gippsland media is so stuck in the conservative mould that the Greens candidate, Dr Malcolm McKelvie, was mostly ignored by local media – despite a barrage of damned good media stories and comments on everything from coal and GM to mental health, new fuel prices and the Lakes. The cut-through recognition issue was the knock-back by the Rural Press Club to allow Malcolm to speak at their forum! This angered supporters of all parties.
Bob Brown also visited in the last week to raise the issues of climate, coal power vs renewables, and forests.
EEG’s environmental questionnaire to candidates exposed the lip-service paid to the environment by the big parties.
The Greens’ vote went up to 7.2% from 5.3%. That’s a 30% increase in the primary vote; small but growing. This region is forlornly conservative but we managed to force the major parties to show their grubby brown colours under their green rhetoric.