Towards A New Australia

Adaptation. Transformation. Transition.

"bushfire" by bertknot is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Australia cannot go back to business as usual.

Australia cannot go back to farming as usual.

Australia cannot even go back to living as usual.

The Old Australia: Cremated, Dead, Buried

"Bushfire Aftermath" by E Dagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Aftermath

Before we face another round of disasters – familiar, like fire and flood, but amped up by climate change – let’s nip in the bud any talk of going back to the way things were. Of re-doing anything. That way is suicide.

So please, no talk of rebuilding, restocking, restoring: no talk of repeating the mistakes that have got us here.

We must not try to recreate what we have lost and are continuing to lose. We must not pine for the old Australia that is no more. To put Tony Abbott’s quote into a new and highly appropriate context, it is “cremated, dead, and buried.”

Adaptation

I want to see the adaptation plans for dealing with the grave effects we are experiencing and will continue to experience. For surviving the extremes while we work to end and reverse them.

I want to hear about the plans for defending ourselves from the increasingly hostile climate and environment. But I am more interested in how we plan to build this new Australia.

Transformation

The plans for the massive desalination plants, the harvesting of water than falls on urban environments and currently runs to waste, learning to work with the landscape so that we do not need dams.

The plans for high speed rail lines to replace all the polluting and wasteful flying that we do.

The plans for massive investment in local and regional public transport, to reduce the need to own and drive personal vehicles.

The plans for replacing traditional homes in fire prone areas, which are recipes for disaster, and will probably have to be declared unfit for human habitation, unless they are brought up to some new standard. Or if that is not possible, replaced. 

About making homes defensible and survivable. About not allowing them to place themselves in danger and thus selfishly forcing firefighters to risk their lives, and the country our precious and limited resources.

For a new Australian agriculture that does not rely on European farming practices, crops and animals. Or water management. The 250 yr failed experiment is just that – a failure. It never worked when conditions were relatively benign. It will not work in the future.

The plans for phasing out crops that demand vast water resources, like rice and cotton.

Transition

We will need to support those whose jobs and way of life will disappear, as they learn new skills and new ways of living. As the new industries are built and the old phased out. The transition plans for communities who can no longer live where they always have. The transition plans for the workers whose industries will be closing down.

I want to see the plans for undoing the damage we have done to this land, for reforesting and rewilding the vast areas we have cleared and turned into dust in recent decades.

I want to see full and proper respect paid to the traditional owners of this land, their fire and farming practices. I want to see them taking the lead role in building this new Australia that we have to have, and taking the political and economic power to do so.

Finance

I want the rebuilding to be financed by those who can afford it, not the ordinary Australians.

I want to see the subsidies withdrawn entirely from all the fossil fuel companies. I want foreign multinationals pay full tax on every cent they earn here, not just their profits, and an end to transfer pricing.

I want the insurance companies to be compelled to insure everyone, wherever they live, at affordable rates, spreading the load across all policyholders, backed up by government guarantees and probably a government owned insurer.

I want ownership of all natural resources, energy, water, transport to be surrendered voluntarily to the public, freely and without charge. Or else we just take it. This is, as I said, a war.

Government

And I want the country run by a government drawn from all the parties, with outside experts drafted in to run significant ministries and agencies, as is done in wartime. Because we are in a war, and unless we recognise that fact and behave accordingly, we will lose and be erased.

"Sydney fires" by Simon_sees is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Smoke over Sydney

A New Australia

Old Australia is dead and being cremated before our eyes. Unlike Dracula, no matter how much blood (or water) we sprinkle on it, it will not, and should not, rise again. It is time to build a New Australia.

Not a cheap plastic copy of the Trumpery that is America. Not a copy of the moth-eaten nursery toy that is Britain. But something that has never been tried before – a truly Australian Australia, fit for purpose, fit for the continent, fit for the climate, and fit for the future.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)