Australia talks the talk, but will it walk the walk to save rainforests?

Laurance, Bill (2014) Australia talks the talk, but will it walk the walk to save rainforests? The Conversation, 13 November 2014. pp. 1-4.

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Abstract

[Extract] At the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit, which concluded yesterday in Sydney, environment minister Greg Hunt announced A$6 million to combat illegal logging.

While the funding builds on legislation to ensure Australian goods are sourced legally, is this the deal Hunt was after to save rainforests? The summit was a Coalition election promise, highlighting the importance of slowing deforestation to combat climate change.

It preceded the World Parks Congress, a once-in-a-decade phenomenon that is drawing some 6,000 park aficionados, environmental managers and government delegates from around the globe to Sydney this week.

Greg Hunt has a tough gig. As environment minister for the right-leaning Abbott government, Hunt's job is to advance environmental priorities in a cabinet that generally seems less interested in conservation and science, and more interested in economic growth, than any Australian government in recent memory.

As a result, Hunt seems more politically marginalised than his predecessors. Indeed, I suspect that, were Hunt to push too hard on environmental priorities — or fail to support the pro-coal, pro-mining, no-new-parks, anti-renewable-energy agenda of the Abbott government — he'd soon be gone.

In such a setting, where domestic policy is so clearly being driven by a growth-first agenda, what is an energetic environment minister to do? One "safe" strategy is to focus not on matters at home, but on those abroad.

That is precisely what Hunt and the Department of Environment did this week in Sydney with their Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit.

Item ID: 38228
Item Type: Article (Commentary)
Keywords: Asia-Pacific region, Australian government, deforestation, Greg Hunt, illegal logging, rainforests
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Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2015 03:15
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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