Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Environmentalists think Australian states can’t be trusted to make their own decisions. They want them overruled by bureaucrats thousands of miles away.
Green activists love to talk about democracy. For example, here’s Greenpeace decrying “an affront to New Zealand democracy.” Here’s the Sierra Club accusing Canada’s federal government of waging a “war on nature and democracy.” And here’s Friends of the Earth proposing “a more democratic” European Union.
But as David Suzuki’s father used to tell him, don’t be fooled by what people say. Instead, pay attention to what they do.
In Australia, groups such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, the Wilderness Society, and the Conservation Foundation are attempting to beat democracy into submission. As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, these groups:
are threatening to mobilise more than 2 million people if the Rudd government gives in to business demands to slash green tape and hand all development approval powers back to the states. [bold added, backed up here]
Life is about tradeoffs. Pristine, untouched natural spaces are lovely – but people need to eat. Resource based economies harvest natural resources and sell those resources to other people and other nations. That’s how employers generate wealth and taxes, and that’s how employees pay their rent and put food on the table.
Somewhere along the way environmentalists stopped caring about ordinary people – particularly the working class. They stopped caring about hungry kids and the dignity that comes with employment.
Rather than advocating reasonable environmental regulations, they started to believe that nature’s right to remain undisturbed trumps everything. Over the years, they’ve successfully lobbied for layer after layer of environmental red tape.
Permits and inspections occur at the municipal level. More rules are enforced at the state level. Still more have been imposed by the feds. After decades of ever-expanding environmental safeguards, there are now so many hoops to jump through it’s amazing anything gets done.
Heaven help the politician, though, who declares that matters have gotten out of hand and that some streamlining is now in order. Environmentalists will scream bloody murder.
As the Morning Herald tells us:
The groups warn that giving ”cash-strapped” states full power over approvals will lead to a rash of mining approvals without thorough environmental safeguards.
…In a letter to [the Prime Minister], the environment groups warned of the ”continual erosion of environmental laws and protections by recently installed state governments”. [bold added]
In the words of Australia’s Climate Spectator:
Major environmental groups…have said that state governments cannot be trusted with undertaking environmental approvals… [bold added, backed up here]
Australia’s green activists don’t want decisions about proposed mining projects to be made by state legislators – by people who are intimately aware of the challenges, hardships, and obstacles facing the human beings who live and die in a particular state. That would be way-too-democratic.
Instead, they think politicians in the nation’s capital – the vast majority of whom don’t live in a particular state – should be making these decisions. Taking power out of the hands of the people most affected and handing it over to strangers who reside thousands of miles away is the greens’ idea of good government.
From an activist’s perspective, this makes perfect sense. It’s easier to lobby and influence one set of legislators and bureaucrats – those in Australia’s national capital of Canberra – than the legislators of six different states.
The “recently-installed state governments” referred to above were elected by voters who appear to have grown impatient with unreasonable green policies. The public has spoken. It’s tired of the job-killing red tape.
But rather than respecting the views of the public, the greens think national legislators should overrule them.
Environmentalists don’t care what you think. They don’t care about democracy.
What’s going on in Australia makes this clear: if robbing their fellow citizens of a voice is the only way they can accomplish their goals, environmentalists are cool with that.
WWF Derides ‘Vocal Minority’ Views – which discusses green opposition to local residents having more say over whether wind farms are installed in their communities