Sweeping crackdown on political criticism in Australia

Hear no evil, see no evil...

In Australia, the Tony Abbott government is continuing its war on public discourse.

Scorched-earth policies Down Under...

Scorched-earth policies Down Under...

For starters, it has proposed to ban consumer boycotts of corporations that destroy or degrade the environment--a tack for which it has been strongly criticized by ALERT.

Now, it has enacted sweeping new rules to limit criticism of its actions by Australian public employees. 

In effect, any significant criticism of the government on any type of social media--including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, blogs, forums, and Wikipedia--is banned forthwith.

Such rules apply even if the criticism is made anonymously.

Not only that, but employees are being told they must dob in their colleagues, if they should ever see any such criticisms.  Those who fail to abide could be sacked.

From an environmental perspective, these developments are alarming because the Abbott government is under fire for a growing battery of sins--the worst by any Australian government in memory, as summarized in this recent blog by ALERT member Corey Bradshaw.

Speak no evil....  George Orwell would be proud...

World park body slams Australian PM over 'no more parks' vow

ALERT's press release last week criticizing Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's ill-advised 'no more parks' pledge (see blog below) has been followed today by a major blast from the world's leading park body, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).

Now I see the PM's logic...

Now I see the PM's logic...

In an open letter, 114 Australian members of the WCPA decried the PM's stance and Australia's resulting loss of international leadership in nature protection.

The letter follows Abbott's widely publicized speech to a timber industry dinner last week when he vowed not to "lock up" any more forests in national parks.

The Abbott government also plans to remove World Heritage protection for 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian wilderness.

As detailed in blogs below, these latest steps follow a series of highly dubious actions that will weaken park and environmental protections in Australia.

 

Press release: ALERT confronts Australian PM over 'no more parks' vow

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has infuriated environmental scientists with his recent 'no more parks' vow.  In response, ALERT issued a press release today decrying the PM's ill-advised tack.

Don't blame me--I voted for the other guy!

Don't blame me--I voted for the other guy!

The press release highlights the need for more--not fewer--protected areas in critically threatened ecosystems in Australia, such as the imperiled Mountain Ash forests of Victoria

It also highlights the stunningly poor example that Australia is now setting internationally, via Abbott's actions. 

The press release is already garnering attention both in Australia and overseas.  See also the related blog on ConservationBytes.com by ALERT member Corey Bradshaw.

 

Australia called 'most hostile' to the environment

The New Zealand Herald and The Independent have just posed a provocative question: Is Australia now the world's most environmentally hostile country? 

Wake me when it's over...

Wake me when it's over...

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.