The New Zealand Herald and The Independent have just posed a provocative question: Is Australia now the world's most environmentally hostile country?
One could certainly list other nations with dubious environmental records, but Australia's place in the sun has fallen in the eyes of many, given a growing list of questionable policies from the conservative Tony Abbott government. A partial list includes:
- The government's request to remove World Heritage protection for a large expanse of Tasmanian eucalyptus forest, which harbors some of the world's tallest trees
-The decision to dump millions of tonnes of dredging spoil on the Great Barrier Reef (the UN has already threatened to list the Reef as "in danger" when its World Heritage monitoring committee meets in June)
- A well-documented resistance to meaningful action to combat climate change
- Allowing Western Australia to proceed with a large-scale cull of great white, tiger and bull sharks, in the face of strong opposition from many marine scientists
- A variety of alarming measures that are degrading the status and safeguards for Australian protected areas
- Efforts to seriously weaken Australia's recently passed anti-illegal logging bill (see our ALERT blog on this issue)
The leader of the Australian Green Party, Senator Christine Milne, has said such changes could make Australia a "global laughing-stock". Let's hope the Abbott government sees the light in time.