Look every so often you come across something so mind-numbingly insane, so off-the-planet crazy, that you think you have wandered into a National Party conference by mistake, and in this case I probably have. Warning – some sporadic bad language may follow.
There was this state in Australia, see, a kind of a magical place. Had everything – mountains, sweeping plains, rich volcanic and alluvial soils, endless grasslands, tropical forests, more biodiversity than you could poke a shotgun at. You could run healthy cattle in huge numbers, and grow crops ranging from cool temperate grapes and vegetables to tropical fruits like bananas and mangoes.
And then, and then, it had a long coastline in tropical waters. Rainforest grew down to white sandy beaches, rivers fed by tropical rains flowed to the sea, mangroves grew in estuaries and on coasts. And the sea. Sparkling blue, warm, with astonishing diversity of marine life, especially since under the waters was the world’s biggest coral reef, and above the waters a chain of thousands of tropical islands. The seas provided abundant fish and crustaceans and molluscs, all healthy and unpolluted.
So people clamoured to buy the agricultural and marine food products from the state. And many more clamoured to visit the natural wonders of ocean, reef, forest and outback. Enjoying a lifestyle, if only briefly, found nowhere else on the planet, and looking in awe at the natural animal and plant wonders of sea and land.
Too good to be true? That’s what the developers and miners and corporations and their political friends thought. Queensland politicians. Bet you’d guessed that already. No point in distinguishing what kind of Qld politicians because it makes no difference at all.
Anyway these bastards got together and decided they didn’t want the state that had been provided to them by hundreds of millions of years of evolution and an incredibly lucky accident of geography. Decided they could care less about a lifestyle for its inhabitants that was the envy of the world, most of whom wanted to visit to sample it. Decided that although they and their friends had made millions out of showing off their lovely state and selling its excellent food products, this wasn’t good enough. Decided that if they wanted to make billions, and they did, they would need to start digging up and drilling for some rather nasty stuff that had lain underground for hundreds of millions of years. Dig it up quick, flog it off, get money. Simple equation.
Just two small flaws in this otherwise excellent cunning plan. Getting this ghastly stuff out from underground tended to pollute the farming country – soil, rivers, aquifers. And shipping it overseas meant shipping it down to the coast, into harbours, on to ships, and out through the amazing reef.
But none of the people who were going to become very rich, or their political enablers, gave, and here I resort to alliteration, a flying fuck about the flaws. In fact it seemed that the more damage they could cause the better – one in the eye for all those do-good hippies, and farmers and tourist operators and fishermen. Men? None of them real men. Not like miners and shippers and developers. Men so tough they were prepared to destroy a whole state and a 2000km long coral reef and millions of years of evolution and millions of years of ecosystem development just to prove their toughness. Only to be outdone in toughness by the politicians who thought the destruction wasn’t happening fast enough.
And here we are. Rich farming land being wrecked. Rivers, estuaries, bays being dredged, mangroves removed, ports enlarged, toxic waste dumped near reefs, massive increase in shipping, oil spills, animal collisions, dying fish and dugongs. From the south of the state through Gladstone (now focus of massive destruction) all the way up to Bathurst Bay (Bathurst Bay – if that doesn’t signal what is wrong nothing does). Ongoing and increasing damage to the marine ecosystem and the reef itself, already under great threat as climate change impacts the oceans through heat and acidity. Ongoing and increasing damage to terrestrial biodiversity, already under threat from rising temperatures and increasing storms through climate change.
But wait, there’s more. And this is the icing on the cake, the flag in the National Party lapel. This is the part that has me screaming at the tv “What the fuck do you people think you are doing? Yes Anna, that includes you.”
The nasty stuff they are digging up, drilling for, shipping off overseas? Carbon that when burnt will greatly worsen the climate change already affecting this state. You following me? Wrecking the state in order to send off stuff that will wreck the state even more, in a process the term “vicious cycle” could have been invented for.
I’d suggest that we should take Queensland away from the Queenslanders. Except, and this is where my story turns from anger to sadness, the other states are just as bad.