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Miranda Devine on Green Politics in NSW « Previous | |Next »
March 7, 2003

It is difficult to follow the NSW election at a distance. You miss the detail and the local politics. There are compensations the heavy spin in which policies just form a back drop comes through loud and clear. What we have is selling the leader as a personality package whilst the Ho hum election battle involves big conflicts over meat pies and sausage rolls. The policies are merely a back drop for the circulation of media images. As Tim Mc Donald says Promises, promises: Show me the policies!

So all the policy conflicts and battle of ideas shift to the Greens. They are the ones causing policy waves around drugs and education. If it ws not clear before it is now: the Greens have replaced the Australian Democrats as the third force in Australian electoral politics. Antony Green observes:

"While replacing the Australian Democrats as the third force, the Greens are very different political beasts. The Democrats occupied that small part of the political spectrum between Labor and the Coalition, while the Greens are unambiguously to the left of Labor. As a result of this firmer ideological position, the Greens have begun to receive the sort of policy scrutiny that has never been applied to the more pragmatic Democrats."

What sort of scrutiny is that? The well-known Miranda Devine has taken upon herself to put the Greens under the microscope. Her big claim is red inside the green watermelon: that the environment movement has been taken over by people with a class warfare agenda. The good coverage of the NSW election by the SMH, and the excellent work by the ABC's Mattew Liddy in his Election Pole Vault weblog, does not scutinize the commentary within the battle of ideas. So there is no scrutiny of Miranda Devine's scrutiny of the greens. Being at a critical distance from the din of the battle allows us to do this. So lets have a closer look at Miranda.

She basically makes the argument in terms of the timber industry whose utilitarian environmentalism pretty much amounts to the wise use of natural resources. Miranda says that the green movement's dishonesty is nowwhere more apparent

"....than in the destruction of the NSW timber industry, which once led the world with its skill and innovation. Right now, after what should have been the best logging season in 50 years, timber mills on the North Coast are running out of logs, 1400 jobs are at risk and the certainty the industry was promised by the Government and conservation groups three years ago has turned out to be a mirage."

Why is this? What is wrong with conserving old growth forests? Miranda's argument is a bit unclear at this point. But the Carr Government's attempt to establish its green creditionals, and so wrap up green preferences, is involved. Miranda see this as:

"...a pre-election "gift" to the Greens of 15 new national parks comes despite the fact that 1.6 million hectares incinerated in NSW and the ACT (including much of the Kosciuszko National Park) this bushfire season show the National Parks and Wildlife Service to be incapable of managing the flora and fauna already in its care. Of course, such election-eve announcements are not really about saving the environment. They are about feeding the green monster. "

Presumably Carr is also feeding the growth monster, eg., big business, developers and casino operators, would by okay. Miranda's feeding the green monster argument is not that persuasive since the Carr regime has to feed both "monsters" to retain its hands on the levers of power. Regaining power is what it is all about.

Of course Miranda would reject 'feeding the growth monster', but she presents no arguments for that claim. She has to since the whole idea of the free and competitive market as a force of creative destruction means that industries come and go. It is time for the present practices of forest industry to go. In a global economy more money can be made elsewhere. As things currently stands this suggests that Miranda is calling for protection for an outmoded, inefficient industry. Spinning for Pauline Hanson now?

However, Miranda has been well schooled in the ways of rhetoric and she knows that she needs something more substantial for the SMH readership, than spinning to protect the forestry industry. If things are left with this emotional appeal to jobs Miranda would quickly be out of a job. So she has another line of argument:

"And the terrible irony is that destroying the timber industry may ultimately do trees more harm than good. A school of progressive, rational environmental thought around the world now holds that timber is the ultimate sustainable industry, a solar-generated renewable resource that we should be using more of, not less."

This is the wise use of the utilitarian conservatism being wheeled out. It talks the language of sustainability not just protecting jobs. But it is hard to make sense of. Miranda is saying that we should use more of these natural resources not less. Why so? She turns to an expert, (Patrick Moore, website who says that:

"...trees are the answer to environmental problems from soil erosion to salinity, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. [We should be] growing more trees and then using more wood, both as a substitute for non-renewable fossil fuels and materials such as steel, concrete and plastic, and as paper products for printing, packaging and sanitation".

What does this mean in practice? Well wilderness is rejected as is specially cultuivated plantations. What is advocated is that our native forests should be logged through the selective culling practised on the North Coast, because this thins the eucalypt canopy thereby allowing young trees to grow and old trees to flourish.

Miranda does a quick flick of the switch at this point. Its the key move. She says the greens are opposed to a sustainable forest industry:

" is clear from the NSW Greens' policies on [drugs, taxation and education] the environmental movement has been hijacked by people with agendas that have less to do with the environment than with class warfare. Trees are just a convenient cloak under which they can hide an old-fashioned long-discredited ideology, and they will quite happily sacrifice those trees on the altar of their principles, as the bushfire devastation shows."

And away she goes on bushfires just like Wilson Tuckey. Miranda has to move in this direction if she is to establish her 'green monster' case. She does this by trying to show that the greens are irrational. Pretty nifty use of rhetoric eh? This is the key line:

"People who base their opinion on science and reason and who are politically centrist need to take the [green] movement back from the extremists who have hijacked it, often to further agendas that have nothing to do with ecology."

We need to do this because of the the absurdity of the current situation in which 'timber towns disappear and the precious bush skills of timber workers are squandered' all 'for the illusion that we are saving the environment.'

Are the greens irrational in not supporting a sustainable forest industry? Far from it. Its a furphy. Have a look here under policies, caring for the earth then environment (section 1.3. 2 Forests and Wood Production) and the greening of industry. Miranda has not even bothered to read the website. So there is no engagement with any of the ideas contained in these policies.

Great journalism huh?

The failure to engge with green policies leaves Miranda Devine exposed as spinning for the state government to protect the forest industry. Miranda is no economic rationalist. Maybe she could do a bit of work for Pauline Hanson's election campaign. It sure needs a helping hand.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:39 AM | | Comments (4)


1) conflict structuralism in sociology is more than marxist class warfare agendas

2)Miranda Devine should read THe Ecology of Eden by Ivan Eisenberg, which gets a big tick from the economist btw

3) Is Miranda related to Frank?? What with Dubya, Downer, odgeman and Wriedt in TAs it looks like the inherited oligarchy is here, thank goodness we blog

4) Kate Carnell's "It started in the national parks, it started in the national park, it started in the naition park" is another version of this work whoring for the timber industry, their personal ignorance of fire in australian ecology iis truly lamentable, no wonder i cannot get a job

As part of my unfinished PhD, i watched many films & videos about forests & the timber industry. One of them actually tried to exhort people to approve of logging old-growth forests by suggesting that the forest was a place of inter-generational conflict were greedy old trees were not allowing young trees a chance to grow!

Have you noticed that many of these columnists who use the timber industry as an rhetorical tool rarely acknowledge the role of the timber companies in making huge cuts to the workforce. Doesn't happen very often. No, far better to perpetuate the myth of the timber industry as a place where the true Aussie male lives out a life on the land that us city plebs can only yearn for. An industry not subject to the whims of market forces, but one where noble timber bosses allow their strong and noble timber cutters to go about the business of transforming Australian dreams into reality.

While some greenies may be insensitive to the plight of timber workers thrown on to the scrapheap, i think that many who cheer the industry are equally as guilty of merely using these workers as tools to bolster their position.

Anyone wanting to read themselves their non-Miranda rights to an unfiltered reality should take a hard look at the actual policies and statements of the Greens and make up their own minds, as Gary is doing. The Greens.

I have followed this worldwide political phenomenon since I was a young Philosophy undergrad at Leuven, the spiritual birthplace of the Belgian Greens (Ecolos) in 1983. At heart, European policy is increasingly Green, which is a big part of the current massive cultural divide that has recently ended the fiction of a unified Western Alliance.

As I discovered during my stint as Greens media coordinator during the mid 90s in Qld, most "journalists" here in Oz have no real knowledge or awareness of the Greens' policy. The philosophical, social justice, and scientific underpinnings of Green policy, and the rich political history that created the European Greens and people like German Foreign Minister Joshka Fisher are a black hole to many of our fearless scribes .

Sadly, the only conclusion I can reach is that Journos such as Miranda can only sing from the hymnbooks of their corporate capitalist bosses and the political "in crowd" who call the shots. They aspire to become one of these cour jesters themselves perhaps, and anything which might put a black mark against the pro-development, pro-pokies agenda is beyond the bounds of thinkable thought.

Of course Greens are pro trees and tree-based industries. The Green movement's demigod, Bill Mollison, invented Permaculture, for chrissakes, which is all about how a sustainable earth might actually work. It is nothing like the vision of North Ltd or Rio Tinto, whose interests are profit and shareholder return on investments.

It is the Green view of power and its stewardship that most infuriates and perplexes the handmaidens of the powerful like Miranda.

As Green thinkers Peter Singer, Gene Sharp, etc observed the powerful can only rule in a democracy with the consent of the governed, meaning the essential questions of public policy and morality raised by the Greens this week are no longer avoidable for ordinary Australians. We either consent to illegal, foolish and immoral policies, or we do not give our consent to them.

Finally, the fact that our stance on issues is often congruent with the most progressive voices in the global NGO movements should surprise no one. Green thinkers in both the ALP, Democrats and The Greens run many influential policy discussion boards and lists, including one right now on the super-secret GATS treaties. We consult closely with these globalist movements and implement them here, adapted for local conditions through the genetic pressure of elections and branch creation.

Unlike Labor and Howard, however, the LibLab, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dumber who now show indications of preferencing one another ahead of the Greens to deliberately keep them silent and out of Parliament.

History shows us evil always works better when kept in darkness, so the brown paper bagman deliveries can keep on stuffing the maws of plutocrats who have carved up our nation into easily monopolised slices.

The people of NSW are being given a perfect chance to set this nation out on a new, sustainable, 21st century direction by rejecting war-mongering unilateralist and US appeasers occupying our seats
of government at present.

sorry, the Greens URL is