The Ryan Independent

Commentary on global, federal, state and local issues from Brisbane's western suburbs

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The tide has turned on balancing economy and environment.

October 31st, 2007 · No Comments · Posts

Last night’s Candidates Forum organised by Sustainable Jamboree saw all Ryan’s candidates attend (except Neville Solomon of the CEC), together with some of the candidates from Oxley, two sitting Senators and one Senate candidate. All the responses will be available as video on the web, via YouDecide2007, so you can be a virtual audience member and form your own opinions about the candidates and their views.

The most significant feature of the evening was that agreement outweighed disagreement between the candidates – across the range of environmental and sustainability questions that we were posed, and disagreement was more about means than about ends.

The very nature and topic of the forum, of course, meant that audience members tended to be, at least “light green”. I respect Mr. Johnson’s steadfast presentation of Liberal policy on these matters. He was heard politely, but support for these policies was, it’s fair to say, thin on the ground.

What would have happened if the same questions had been put to the same candidates before an audience that accurately represented the whole spectrum of political views in Ryan?

I firmly believe that it would not have differed greatly. The centre of gravity would have been a paler shade of green, but I am more convinced than ever that a turning point has been reached in the public’s view of how the economy and the environment must be balanced. I cannot express it any better than the Graham Pearcey of Red Hill, whose letter in Monday’s Australian stated that

“…Neither (party) has the courage to state the truth: the economy must adapt to the environment because the environment plainly cannot adapt to the economy…. What seems to be missing is acknowledgment that the environment is the economy”.

The Liberal party correctly takes pride in the positive side of conservatism: the preservation of what has served us well and is of proven value, and wariness of the potential harm that ill-considered change can bring. There is much in this view I agree with. But on the question of how the economy and the environment should be balanced, there is nothing more truly conservative than to take the long view of our future. I believe that on this fundamental question, the less positive side of conservatism – undue caution, a failure of imagination, and a failure of optimism, have prevailed.

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