The argument on the protection of the environment recently being presented by the Weekend Australian (today and May 23), is that only people living in a locality have the right to decide on the usage or protections of that local environment. Such argument is spurious to the extreme. On the one hand it undermines the notion that a nation, particularly a democratic nation, has more benefits for all the parts than the parts (tribes, regions) that make it up can draw to itself. If we devolve decision making entirely to the local level, we are reverting to a tribal system which will, for small weak tribes or regions mean that larger stronger cities will grow to the expense of the other parts. On the other hand, it offers the untenable, to the point of moronic, notion that land usage in one locality doesn’t effect the environment of another locality or the nation or the planet at large.
As I have written previously, it is ethically wrong for anyone to relegate their responsibility as a member of the democracy, as a citizen of the planet, to participate to the extent of their capacity in the decisions for the conservation of the planet. While I am fully in agreement with people offering their alternative opinions how that might best occur, the argument presented in the Weekend Australia by Tony Koch ( May 23-24 2009, p8) and in an interview with businessmen on Cape York this week June 6-7 p5), that people who may never visit the region have no right to demand the conservation of its wilderness for the future of the nation and the planet, has not the best interests of democracy , the nation, the planet, or Cape York in mind. These are arguments for power and control outside of democracy. These are arguments that lead to autocratic governance, outsider lockouts, and internal social control of that sort we see in Burma or several African countries. We need papers like the Australian to show that their journalists and editors understand the concept of democracy and support it, not run a propoganda against it.
As to the slant that environmentalists don’t visit Cape York, well that is just plain lies. It is patently clear to anyone in North Queensland who has an ear open to environmental issues that environmental scientists and activists routinely visit Cape York, speak with local people, survey the environment, and put the best case forward that they can determine for the environment. It takes no journalistic skills at all to find the Cairns office of the Wilderness Society. It takes no journalistic skills to find that Noel Pearson and staffers at the Cape York Institute have spoken with staffers and activists of the Wilderness Society regularly over the past two year. The question for the Australian is, are you unfolding an important story here or running a line for Noel Pearson who was one of your more recent commentators? Do you have objectivity here or are you unable to apply appropriate journalistic enquiry standards to someone who might now be though of as one of your own?