Leading article Australia

Political insanity

23 November 2019

9:00 AM

23 November 2019

9:00 AM

As the bushfires rage, and a long, hot, dry and fiery summer seems inevitable, it’s well past time for Australia to confront seriously the madness of our environmental policies. On too many fronts, from allocating water resources to hazard reduction, it is becoming increasingly clear that the decades-long pandering to the environmental movement on a range of issues has had horrendous consequences.

Despite all the hyperbole and hysteria about the ‘science’ of global warming, there is only one clear and unchallengeable fact: drought makes bushfires more likely and more intense, for the simple reason that lack of moisture automatically equates to a drier and therefore deadlier fuel load.

Beyond that, the environmental lobby has largely managed to dominate rural communities and authorities with a left-wing agenda based on Green ideology, not science, that prioritises ‘the environment’ over human activity with disastrous results.

On the one hand, as David Flint points out this week, government policies have pushed drought-stricken farmers and land-owners to the ludicrous and absurd (not to mention life-threatening) situation where they must stand by and watch helplessly as vast amounts of water surge past their properties destined to wash out to sea as ‘environmental flows’ at the behest of unelected and largely unaccountable eco-mandarins. And then, to compound the irony, downstream those very same ‘environmental flows’ are forced through areas of river that cannot handle them, leading to floods and destruction of farmlands. Add to which, it would appear the Turnbull-era merchant bankers’ folly of separating the water from the land has proven (quelle surprise) a complete travesty. But the insanity doesn’t stop there.

Because on the other hand, many local councils and authorities now prohibit on ideological grounds the collecting of bush firewood during winter, hazard reduction and even the clearing of wide firebreaks.

Throw in our idiotic Kyoto commitments, which have seen farmers unable to clear their own land, and its mutant offspring the Paris Agreement, and you end up with vast tracts of Australia, the driest continent on earth, left uncleared in the name of ‘carbon abatement’ or ‘carbon sinks’.

As we are seeing at the moment, Mother Nature (with the help of the local arsonist) has her own way of taking care of the build-up of fuel that this environmental madness has created.

…or forever hold your peace

Well, it’s that time of year again – the moment to unburden yourself and let slip your very own outraged, incensed, provocative, humourous, engaging, ranting, witty, polemical, didactic, enlightened inner-essayist. Yes, thanks to the great generosity and passion of the Thawley family for encouraging talented new writers, we are thrilled to announce the 2019 Spectator Australia Thawley Essay Prize, now in its 6th year.

As always, the winner will not only receive $5,000, but they and the runner-up will be published in the magazine and enjoy a slap-up dinner with the judges: none other than former prime minister John Howard, our benefactor Michael Thawley and the Speccie editor Rowan Dean.

The rules are simple. An original essay written specifically for this prize of between 1,000 and 1,500 words in length. Essays must be submitted via email as a Word document (not a pdf) to rowan.dean@bigpond.com with the subject entitled THAWLEY and the author’s full name. Your phone number must be included with the email. Entries close on February 29, 2020.

The Spectator Australia Thawley Essay Prize has already seen a number of first-time writers, of all ages, become published and continue to be published in this magazine and elsewhere. In this week’s issue we have another terrific column by this year’s winner, Joan McCaul and in December we will be publishing another great piece by this year’s runner-up Craig Pett. Neither of whom had been published prior to entering the Prize. Tony Letford, another previous winner, is a regular contributor.

As always, the prize is centred around a broad theme. What you do with it and how you apply it is entirely up to you and your writing muse. But remember, as with everything in The Spectator Australia, we always look for writing that is provocative, insightful and engaging.

This year’s theme is ‘…or forever hold your peace’. What you do with that thought is up to you. Have fun!

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