Holistic local sustainability; food, water, energy, money, people

Will a ‘Voice’ to parliament help degrowth?

The Australian flag and Australian Aboriginal flag fly with a westerly wind on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a Spring afternoon. This image was taken from Kirribilli on the eastern side of the bridge. johnmenadue.com

John Coulter suggests so, in his article in Pearls and Irritations, Not a voice, but a shout

Of course I cannot but applaud criticism of endless growth on a finite continent and planet. We need more of these articles, so John Coulter is to be congratulated. He is a long-standing member of Sustainable Population Australia and a former Australian Democrats Senator.

Sadly, John characterizes the problem as “the mainstream white growth-economy driven society”. But Australia is very diverse, remember? And anyone familiar with the Degrowth movement knows it is overwhelmingly white.

That aside, I don’t think a “Voice” to parliament and sustainable living necessarily follows. Theoretically, it sounds right, but there are problems…

The link he makes with ‘the voice’ or ‘the shout’ is with traditional sustainable Aboriginal practices. But are most of our indigenous people living the modern equivalent of that? What I’ve experienced of them personally in the cities and their fertility rate suggests otherwise. Where are the Aboriginal degrowth voices? I dare say they’ll grow in numbers (hopefully), but we want everyone to become degrowthers, don’t we? Why pin hopes on the Aboriginal community via a constitutionally entrenched preferential access to parliament? Do we seriously think this message will be heeded from a “Voice” any more than from the general public? Affirmative action can be appropriate, but there is much experience to show it can be problematic and unmeritorious [sic].

Some decades ago I stood at the Aboriginal Embassy in front of old parliament house and spoke to an indigenous representative. I had heard the idea of the old building hosting national gatherings of indigenous peak bodies and without prompting, he echoed it. The symbolism of it is very powerful. A recent survey shows Australians favour this kind of action more than the Voice. It would honour our indigenous people. Rather than entrenching differences, it would represent a mixing of cultures. It most certainly would have averted the vandalism and burning of the old buildings’ front doors in December, 2021. There is much to be said for this kind of mixing, in contrast to the unsustainable industrial lifestyle most indigenous people have adopted. It’s high time we all did some assimilating to the central tenets of traditional Aboriginal ways.

By the way, anyone checking our Ecological Footprint at World Population Review will see Australia’s per capita consumption, at 7.27 is the highest in the world and our biocapacity is even greater at 12.64. This suggests we are not exceeding our continent’s carrying capacity, which is dubious given the evidence of the latest State of the Environment Report. It ignores the rights of other species we’re sharing it with and currently driving to extinction at an unprecedented rate. We have to explain that we are custodians of what little wild space there is left on the Earth.

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This entry was posted on January 12, 2023 by .
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