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Issue #1731      May 18, 2016

Dingo

One of the features of this election campaign seems to be a big attack on the Greens from both major parties. You’d think they’d choose to spend more time developing their own environmental policies. Climate change and its effects are not mentioned by the two major parties. Many people are involved in actions against what they see as bad government policy, both state and federal, including environmental policies. They join existing organisations or form their own – like the Lock the Gate Alliance, for example. Environmental charities, like any other, enjoy a tax-deductible status. That makes miners (I mean mine owners) see red. The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) complained about six environmental organisations, including Greenpeace, Lock the Gate Alliance, The Wilderness Society (Queensland), the Australia Conservation Foundation and 350.org Australia. The MCA has demanded measures against environmental organisations encouraged by a report from the House of Representatives environment committee recommending the Register of Environmental Organisations be abolished and that the Australia Taxation Office take over the endorsement of green groups for tax-deductible status. Not surprisingly environmentalists responded promptly. Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive David Ritter called on the government to reject the report. “This baseless inquiry, forced through by big mining companies using their influence over politicians, is a shameful attempt to write laws to silence Australians, who care about the environment”, he said. “Thousands of people support environmental groups because they want to protect our natural heritage. By targeting us, the government is trying to intimidate ordinary Australians”.

A dental public health expert, Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft strongly advocates for the introduction of a sugar tax. He points out in an article published in The Age (04/05/2016) that over the past 20 years tooth decay rates have increased dramatically. …”for the first time in generations we are raising children whose oral health may be worse than that of their parents,” he says. There was a new dental package in the budget which purported to increase funding for dental care for children. But as Professor Hopcraft points out the new package will actually cause a decrease in expenditure of nearly $200 million a year which will “severely limit access to dental care and increase already stretched waiting lists, with the possibility that fewer children are able to receive the care they need”. Excessive consumption of sugar in the everyday diet is a cause of concern for many health professionals. Obesity and related health problems are a real challenge.

The NSW government has gone ahead with council amalgamation despite complete lack of consultation and outright disregard for the opinion of the communities involved. The government, of course, claims that it is all done for our benefit. Sure. Then how come that in marginal seats the proposed amalgamation has not taken place or been postponed? Let’s hope that voters remember – now and in the future NSW elections.

Next article – Culture & Life – Climate change

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