Coral Battleground? Re-examining the 'Save the Reef' campaign in 1960s Australia

Lloyd, Rohan, Newlands, Maxine, and Petray, Theresa (2017) Coral Battleground? Re-examining the 'Save the Reef' campaign in 1960s Australia. Environmental Sociology, 3 (1). pp. 54-63.

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Abstract

Today's campaigns to protect the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have parallels with historical campaigns. With hindsight, we can more clearly see the way environmental discourses are socially constructed as well as their outcomes. This is potentially insightful for contemporary environmentalists. Beginning in 1967, the Save the Reef campaign had a thoughtful media strategy and sought to socially construct the GBR as a precious ecosystem that was at risk from exploitation. Histories of this campaign remember environmentalists as a weak, David-like contender in a fight against the powerful Goliath of the Queensland government and extractive industries. Using the historical archives as our primary data source, however, reveals that these memories are overstated and that environmentalists actually enjoyed widespread support. Moreover, we see that the GBR has no explicit 'opponents'; even those who sought to exploit it came from a position of pragmatic conservationism, believing exploitation and conservation could coexist. The historical struggle over power and control of the GBR shows the positive outcomes which emerged from broad coalitions, as opposed to an adversarial and combative approach to activism.

Item ID: 46581
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: environmental movement, Great Barrier Reef, historical sociology, social construction, Save the Reef, black bans, Australian environmentalism
ISSN: 2325-1042
Funders: Faculty of Arts, Education and Social Sciences (FAESS), James Cook University (JCU), Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), National Library of Australia (NLA)
Projects and Grants: FAESS JCU grant, NLA Summer Scholarship
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2016 02:55
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 15%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160605 Environmental Politics @ 35%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) @ 50%
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