OPINION: How Green was Tasmania

OPINION: How Green was Tasmania


Opinion
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Columnist Dr Mike Walker reflects on how green his home state of Tasmania is, both politically and botanically.

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GREEN UP: Dr Mike Walker suggests Tasmania's green movement has become out of touch with the Australian public as voters look elsewhere for alternatives.

GREEN UP: Dr Mike Walker suggests Tasmania's green movement has become out of touch with the Australian public as voters look elsewhere for alternatives.

OPINION

I SAY “was” advisedly, as will become obvious as this article develops.

It’s worth remembering that the Green movement started in Tasmania 30 years ago.

Bob Brown was the original crusader, ably supported later by Christine Milne. It was all about trees in those days, with a constant stream of pictures of old–growth forests and constant warnings about their imminent destruction by the timber industry.

I met Christine and you could have a reasonable debate with her.

Not any more. As the years passed, the Greens and the message became more and more strident, as it was in the run up to the recent Tasmanian election.

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It’s not just in Tasmania – it was aptly summed up in the beginning of an article by Mica Soelline (based in the US) in the journal “Spiked” on February 18, entitled “The Snobbery in Green Politics”:

“Self-proclaimed environmentalists are the new, disguised elite. What should be a universal effort to keep our world clean has turned into a condescending middle-class lifestyle – one that looks down those who don’t practice the same faux philosophy. The imagery of our Earth protectors has sadly become one of organic buyers, vegan dieters and virtue-signalling celebrities discussing climate change and clean energy.

“Too many of these ‘environmental activists’ are hypocritical and out-of-touch, using their distorted ideologies to mask their antipathy towards working people.” 

Over half of Tasmania is locked up. It’s worth repeating that agricultural land only occupies less than a third.

I remember vividly a one-sided conversation I had a couple of years ago with a Braddon Green politician on the subject of global warming/climate change.

I offered to lend him a book by Emeritus Professor Garth Paltridge, entitled “The Climate Caper – Facts and Fallacies of Global Warming”.

Garth, an atmospheric physicist, had recently retired from his position as director of the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, CEO of the Antarctic Studies and CEO of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart.

As it says on the cover of the book: ”He is best known internationally for his work on atmospheric radiation and the theoretical basis of climate.”

The politician declined the offer: “It’s got a Foreword by Viscount Monkton – he’s a bloody climate change sceptic.” It was obvious from this that he doesn’t give “the other side” a fair go.

Dropping the capital G, another perspective is to look at how green Tasmania is geographically.

It’s worth quoting some figures from Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia ABARES 2016: “Tasmania covers an area of around 68,401 square kilometres. Agricultural land occupies 18,900 square kilometres, or around 28 per cent.

“Areas classified as conservation and natural environments occupy 32,650 square kilometres, or around 48.5pc.”

The Greens have slumped to two seats out of 25 – it was within 200 votes of being only one.

There is a slightly different perspective from Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania:

“In total, the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service manages 823 terrestrial reserves covering about 29,000 square kilometres, or over 42pc of the land area of the State.”

“The total Tasmanian Reserve Estate as at 30th June 2014 indicates a total terrestrial reserved area of 30,414 square kilometres, or 50.1pc of the area of Tasmania.”

That’s green by any definition. Over half of Tasmania is locked up. It’s worth repeating that agricultural land only occupies less than a third.

The Greens peaked here in 1992, when they held five seats in the Tasmanian parliament.

By 2006, the mood was changing and there was a 1.5pc swing against them, which was against the national trend.

As I write, the results of the Batman election in Victoria are in, and what had been a long-term Green electorate has gone to Labor.

The Tasmanian election results are now finalised, and the politicians sworn in today. The Greens have slumped to two seats out of 25 – it was within 200 votes of being only one.

I suggest you read again the quote on The Snobbery in Green Politics.

It is highly likely that this had an effect on the result, especially “antipathy towards working people” of whom there are many in the Braddon electorate (quite a few growing good fruit and vegetables).

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