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Oz Wildlife sacrificed as political and economic palliative

The sacrifice of Australian wildlife is being offered as a cheap palliative to politically and economically marginalised farmers and stressed rural communities. Pressure to change Victorian policy to allow commercial harvesting of kangaroos and other wildlife is the result of political opportunism and expediency, not of commercial savvy or sincere helpfulness. Kangaroos, farmers and the rest of the Australian community deserve better.

The reasons for this marginalisation of farmers and decimation of wildlife include the government’s unsustainable pursuit of speculative urban expansion, pinned on high immigration and the resultant diasporas from inner to outer suburbs and interstate. The only obvious public benefit has been more stamp duty. The costs to the community have far out-weighed those putative benefits. The resulting rise in land and water prices has deprived rural communities of social assets and beggared traditional farmers. The impact of expansion, in land alienated to roads and houses, has driven wildlife into precarity and regional extinction.

In a deregulated banking system, ordinary farming cannot compete for finance at reasonable rates with land speculation and corporate advantage. Following severe droughts and in the context of threatened climate change and lawless global markets, rural communities are becoming desperate.

Where, over more than a century, many Australian farmers had come to respect and repair their relationship with the land and our wildlife, hard times and cock-eyed political policy have seen rural land turned over to irresponsible hobby farmers, intensive live-stock businesses, monolithic agribusiness, and new suburbs planned speculatively to benefit from commercially-motivated international immigration and investment schemes, with government encouragement.

The real beneficiaries of this economic scorched-earth policy which, if it succeeds, will see the disappearance of our wildlife and our rural communities, are corporate land-users and their infrastructure providers. Victorian Government favours Public-Private Partnerships with agribusiness and water-commerce over traditional dryland farmers, graziers and small irrigators. [See “Orwellian Waterworks: big-agribusiness and Victorian Gov,” and “I will govern for all Victorians (caveat: but only if you are powerful and connected”).]

Traditional farming incomes have been unable to compete for ongoing finance with the rapid high-turnovers of commercial land speculation and the scale and intensity of agribusiness. Whilst the AWPC has long-standing conflicts with traditional graziers, irrigators, and dryland farmers, we would be more inclined to stand with them in the face of the grey reductionism and water-commodification, chemically intensive, monocropping and industrialised cruelty of big agribusiness, which benefits no creature or democratic community in the long-term. We are appalled that the government favours short-term nomadic and dehumanising forms of profit over stable rural communities which could adapt sustainably to peaceful coexistence with generously allocated, abundant wildlife connected by viable wildlife corridors, indefinitely.

Regrettably, in the mean-time agriculturalists use too many damaging chemicals, poisons, over-produce inappropriate crops like cotton and rice, and overstock cattle and sheep in a zero-sum competition with the global marketeers, ending in live-export debacles and selling at a loss during market gluts. Industrial agriculture degrades and destroys our Australian fragile soils, turning the land to dust. The overstocking of bovines contributes to the volume of carbon emissions. And, as suburbs encroach on well-watered land, graziers clear more bushland indigenous habitat in order to survive another year. Despite all of the above, there is little if any recognition that urban and agricultural expansion and intensification are the main cause of habitat loss, land, biodiversity and ecosystem loss, because short term economics trump democracy and sustainability.

A whole spectrum of co-evolution and philosophical and moral ecological relationships between our species and others is subsumed for ephemeral profits, at great energy costs, justified by questionable measures of human progress. The political value of democracy and the natural values of kindness, harmony with nature and open spaces, have been jettisoned in this report. It is time agriculture and primary industries that are so damaging to nature are brought into line.

Exerpt from:
"Submission to the Land and Biodiversity White Paper Team
Department of Sustainability and Environment
PO Box 500 East Melbourne Victoria 3002"

Maryland Wilson,
The Australian Wildlife Protection Council
247 Flinders Lane Melbourne 3000 Victoria