Whitlam Institute

Publications

Browse Publications

All living things are diminished

 

All living things are diminished: Breaking the national consensus on the environment

Perspectives vol 11

 

 

The Honourable Bob Debus AM argues for a return to the era of negotiated political consensus on environmental policyin his essay All living things are diminished: Breaking the national consensus on the environment.

“Our history shows that some substantial degree of national political consensus is necessary for the long‐term advancement of nature conservation and sustainable production,” Debus says.

“It is well worth recalling that the issue of climate change was, at an earlier time, addressed at the domestic level with a degree of bipartisanship. The Coalition Opposition under Andrew Peacock and John Hewson possessed substantial greenhouse gas reduction targets.”

Debus contrasts the history of a consensus on key environmental policy directions hewn from debate, compromise and negotiation. He chronicles the reversal and decline associated with the disruption of the current evolving environmental settlement.

“The Abbott Government has attempted to sharply reverse more Howard government policy by withdrawing the Commonwealth from responsibility for environmental management. The changes systematically benefit the minerals sector.”

“The great national conservation programs of the past are stalled or reversed,” he says.

“Few issues have proved to be so important, so volatile, so vexing as matters environmental. The environmental challenges we face are real, and yet the debate is surreal,” says Eric Sidoti, Director of the Whitlam Institute.

 

“This Perspectives paper by Bob Debus charts us a way through the stultifying contemporary discourse around environmental policy. He draws on a deep well of experience, arguing that to seriously tackle these difficult issues we need to fight for the reinstatement of the hardwon national consensus.”

Read the paper: