Friday, 16 July 2010

THERE'S A MORATORIUM........ on speaking freely.

Governments, dear Networkers, think they are consultative and give you a say.  Not on your Nellie.  Governments control, marshall, prescribe and sift through how you apparently can have your say.

The Resource Buccaneers are intruding into every avenue of private and community life in parts of NSW and Queensland.   Talk of a moratorium on Coal Seam Gas (CSG) makes very interesting reading.  

Please note the word "However".  That "However" should have been printed in bold letters and in warning-sign red.  Here is one of  the ways governments restrict the ability of the community either individually or collectively in having their say and in being able to enter into consultative dialogue with the government.  This, dear Networkers, is unadulterated window dressing.  
Communities not only have to protest the cause 
but protest the methods of government consultation 
(or lack thereof).

However, Minister Garrett's assessment is limited to impacts on threatened species. According to Ms Waters, an environmental lawyer, without a trigger in our federal environment laws, the full impacts of CSG mining on farmland, groundwater and climate change cannot be assessed. The laws are inadequate to have the full impacts comprehensively assessed.

Minister Garrett is not considering the impacts of CSG mining on prime food producing land.
What is not mentioned is that it helps to be able to speak Bureaucratese with a Scientific accent.   I am a member of (or on the fringes of) a number of water campaigns.  The only successful campaign of which I am aware where Garrett said NO is the Save the Mary campaign.  The campaigners were assisted by an endangered lungfish.  Not every threat can single out an endangered specie to join the campaign.  Too bad, so sad.  So while the dam on the Mary appears unlikely to proceed, I am cynical enough to believe that the Queensland Government will find a way to exert its will in the end.  
In the meantime, responding to government invitations is like drafting sheep as in the picture below.  Sheep come down a race or an ever narrowing corridor and someone sits atop a series of gates opening and closing them and deciding which sheep goes through which gate until they are all siphoned off into the required pens.

It is high time, dear Networkers, that we not only protested our cause/s but the methods of decision-making, consultation and dialogue.  Currently, this is what happens:
  1. Governments decide what the response will be in regard to.  (In this case only threatened species; not on the most important issue of what is happening or to happen to prime food producing land.)
  2. The method of response - namely by submissions individually or collectively.  (This means that it is unlikely that respondents will ever meet unless they are part of a group submission and, in most cases, will not get to hold true cosultative dialogue with a politician or a bureaucrat.)
  3. Submissions need to be well written, to the point, and only in reference to the points stated (in this case namely the threatened species.)  One cannot guarantee that any particular submission will catch anyone's attention at all but respondents are behind the eight-ball altogether if they do not have a certain skill in formulating such submissions.  
Communities need to be active in their own self-interest.  They need to be clear on how politicians and bureaucrats are to consult with them and when and for how long the consultations take place.  At the moment, consultation is fake and, such as it is, is a one way street - not a two way process of communication, consultation and active response.  If this does not happen, all we like sheep have gone astray and we are prime targets for slaughter.

Related reading:
The Rules of Engagement - Seven Keys For Effective Community Engagement

Engaged Passions. Searches for Quality in Community Contexts

Communication and Community Engagement

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