Victoria, Once was a Garden?

1 / 09 / 2014

The Victorian Government has a moratorium on coal seam gas mining until mid-next year – conveniently scheduled after the election takes place at the end of this year. While Victorians fast approach the November poll, try Jane Touzeau is calling on city constituents to join their country counterparts in making this issue an election concern.  In this piece for Sheilas, viagra sale she outlines what is at stake and possible ways Sheilas readers can get active.

By Jane Touzeau

The State of Victoria has certain characteristics – strong communities, sickness many places beautiful in an understated way, a fair bit of kindness, the ability to rub along and the skills to work together in the community for the community good.

While there is constant and incremental change, there’s an underlying expectation that certain values underpin our social fabric.

What if all was about to be to be turned on its head, almost without notice?  What would we do?  What if some force emerged that would destroy our best farmland, damage our water resource, and leave us reliant on imported food?  Who would we expect to protect us?

What is secreted in the pipeline is coal seam gas (CSG) mining licenses.  These were issued by the ALP state government along the Gippsland coast, and around Warrnambool.  Apparently the gas mining companies are now investigating the North West region along the Murray River.

Farmers have joined the “Lock the Gate” alliance and learned from their peers in Queensland, NSW and various states in the USA that CSG mining destroys livelihoods, land and water, turning farmlands into toxic wastelands.

The protests have remained more or less localised in the potentially affected areas, and farmers have 95% support in their communities.  As a result, National party members have pressured the Coalition Government to declare a moratorium on mining until July 2015 – after the state election.

However it is hard for the farmers to spread the word to the city, despite interest and support from the Greens and Friends of the Earth.  The farmers and rural communities are shocked, hurt and fearful for the water, their land, their own futures, and we should be shocked too – shocked at the threat to food security in Victoria.

This is truly culture shock – a destructive, mindless threat to our future by the state parliament on behalf of the fossil fuel corporations  – and most Victorians don’t know about it.  Have a look at the documentary “Fractured Country” on the Lock the Gate website to see the impact of CSG mining on agricultural land.

Drew Hutton is president of Lock the Gate Alliance.  He believes this is the biggest fight the Australian environmental movement has faced.  All environmental campaigns are significant, aiming to protect the precious environment that circumscribes our habitat –forests, reefs, seas and rivers and their creatures – but this poignant campaign aims to protect the land and skilled knowledge that we rely on for our nutrition – food production and the water it relies on.

Productive agricultural land in Australia is rare, and some of it will be lost anyway to climate change (e.g. it is forecast that Shepparton will become the outer limit of the central Australian desert in a matter of decades), so to deliberately destroy farmland during the same time that Melbourne’s population is set to double to 7.7 million by 2051 raises the question of quality of governance in our parliament.   Doctors for the Environment Australia name it as “grossly irresponsible”.  How can we comprehend the lack of consideration by our parliament for continuing production of food and the water resource it depends upon, particularly in a time of climate change?

Has the Midas syndrome so infected policy and decision making in Victoria that after a long period of comfort the basics have been forgotten?  Have decision makers abandoned the well-being of the population to schmoozing by fossil fuel corporations?  How can an attack on the future of food production in Victoria not be a major issue for the community?   What should citizens do about it?

This needs to be a major issue in the forthcoming state election and, as the major parties are trying to keep it quiet, it will have to be raised by the community.

So, what sort of strategies would be relevant?  I’m sure all readers of Sheilas can think of something to do.  The list (from easiest to most demanding) includes doing nothing, learning about the issue – see the Lock the Gate, fracking and CSG facebook sites and websites, telling friends, raising awareness in your community, talking with supporters of your local farmers’ market, writing letters to newspapers, contacting politicians and election candidates, supporting election candidates campaigning on this issue, and standing as a independent candidate.

I’m so incensed about this betrayal of our values that I’m planning to do the latter in the seat of Brighton.  In the end a state or a country that is not self-sufficient in food is at the mercy of malignant forces.  In Syria, the Fertile Crescent since Biblical times suffered a long drought from 2009 and famine as a result of climate change (crops fail when average temperature rises by 1o – spooky enough in itself without contributing to greenhouse gases through the methane released by CSG mining) which, together with their own failure of governance, led to the tragic total chaos there now.

So, in a few decades we could potentially have traveled from being “The Garden State” to “The State of Famine”.  I heard Campbell Newman  saying recently “we never should have mined agricultural land” – what enlightenment, but too late for much of Queensland.

Let’s act now so that it doesn’t become too late for Victoria.

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