During the campaign of the last federal election, the top issue of the day was the environment, specifically climate change. My friends and I used to bicker about the usefulness of having so much campaign time dedicated to the issue of the environment. They were of the belief that finally politicians were focused on something that mattered. I was of the opinion that the hysteria building around the campaign about the environment was leading to mostly empty, reactive bantering, and no matter how much focus was put on the topic, the additional impact on Australia’s environmental policy was going to be minimal.
I don’t think it has been the governing domain where any perceived failures in environmental activism have occured. I think, prior to becoming a media staple, the environment received adequate consideration by government. I would even go as far to say that the government was the platform where much environmental awareness was raised, discussed and launched.
Then came along the GFC, which took some of the momentum out of the environment’s pillar of current issue drive.
A lot of people have been quick to say that climate change is such an important issue, other issues should be given very low consideration in saving the environment.
One idea raised was that Australia should stop exporting coal.
During the GFC and its aftermath, job retention became a key issue. I still believe that Anna Bligh won an election by stirring peoples fears of lowering job security. In 2008-09, coal represented well over half of Queensland international merchandise exports (PDF).
I still think a lot of people need a reality check when it comes to the impacts of some of the policies being flouted. Proposed energy trading schemes, taxes, quotas, etc etc is going to have a real impact on the costs of basic provisions. Queensland is already suffering from heightened costs associated with basic infrastructure (transport, water). Queensland’s future is looking increasingly precarious. It’s strong population growth, inadequate and increasingly expensive infrastructure will need to be repaired over the coming decades, and Queensland needs to ensure that it can cope with a changing landscape of the resource sector.