February 23, 2004 | Peter

Unique Oz

I’ve been enjoying the new doco ‘Wild Australasia” on the ABC. The commentary is pretty banal and Matt Day’s reading is ordinary, and of course it is loaded with the usual stupid terms designed, I assume, to pander to overseas assumptions about Oz. But it does a good job in emphasising the absolute uniqueness of Australia and its wildlife. It is especially relevant in these times when we are so busy trying to become like everyone else through globalisation, FTAs, etc, that we are reminded that in many ways this country is like no other.
Furthermore, our peculiar climate, geography and ecology have been basic in shaping our social history. This in turn has moulded our politics. Our politics, for instance, still reflects the fact that we feel an obligation to support those who have taken on Oz’s harsh environment to generate wealth – even as we increasingly recognise that many of these practices are unsustainable. Most of us huddle on the relatively benign coasts, but we have been reliant on the farmers and miners to make money so we could import our needs and wants. When increasing globalisation forces change, such as the undermining of the sugar industry, we still feel that our tough-minded farmers deserve more than just “thanks for the memories”.
After all, noxious political developments like One Nation can too easily arise if we don’t show a little interest in the situation of people who feel like they are losing out as the world changes.
Mining, which has been taken over by big companies, is somewhat different. They have learned to be more accommodating in terms of indigenous rights and environment al costs, but their actions behind the political scenes are still too often selfish and shortsighted. The problem is compounded by the fact that there is little to make transnational firms care about what they leave behind when they exhaust the ore bodies and go home.
And how much will the American economists who will have an increasing say over quarantine issues under the FTA really care about the unique Oz species that will be threatened by exotic plants and animals?

Posted by Peter at 1:32 pm | Comments Off on Unique Oz |
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