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Peter Whiting Editorial
Regrettably, many of us have by now become inured to those frequent advertisements asking us to sponsor an animal under threat of extinction. Even more sadly, we do not respond with quite the same generosity as of old to similar requests to support children in distress in countries torn apart by war, famine, or natural disaster.
In what we should regard as an alarming new development, we now receive sponsorship requests to support an Australian child living in poverty. An Australian child! What has happened that we would allow such a scandal to develop in Australia?
The government has thrown in its lot with climate sceptics, the loony right, which includes the Murdoch media and the coalminers.
We have a government with no policy on climate change at all. The responses by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Ministers for the Environment and Energy to the latest IPCC report are a disgrace.
The government puts obstacles in the way of renewable energy when all the expert advice and information from around the world tells us that renewables with storage are the best and cheapest way not only to reduce power costs, but also to cut carbon emissions drastically. Clean energy is now the cheapest energy.
Renewables are forecast to halve wholesale energy prices in the next four years. That is dramatic. But the government wants to curb renewables in favour of coal. It’s crazy stuff.
Why are hundreds of thousands of Australian children struggling in poverty, even with a parent working full-time?
Australia has made little progress in recent decades to alleviate childhood poverty, according to Brian Lawrence, speaking at an Anti-Poverty Week event on 17 October, sponsored by Catholic Social Services Victoria. He said wages for many people were too low to lift children out of poverty.
Lawrence pointed to recent research by UnitingCare and the Australian Council of Social Service on the extent of child poverty, indicating that one child in six aged 0-14 years was living in poverty. All Australians shared responsibility for this. Lawrence said the Catholic Church, too, with about 220,000 employees, should be advocating vigorously about the extent of child poverty, and exposing the reasons for it.
“If the general public knew that the Fair Work Commission was putting wage relativities ahead of support for the working poor, preferring high-paid employees over low-paid employees, there would be profound discontent, and, I expect, a change. The Church’s social justice groups, for example, could take this up as a campaign. We haven’t done enough.”
A new arms race is looming, as the United States, Russia, and China continue to modernise their weapons systems, including tactical nuclear weapons. President Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from the Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, and has abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, which has carefully honoured its obligations under this treaty. In Australia, there has been renewed discussion about whether we should acquire tactical nuclear weapons. The impact of climate change will undoubtedly further exacerbate sources of conflict in volatile parts of the world.
Pope Francis is warning about the widening effects of climate change sparking military conflicts, or a wider war spreading from Asia or the Middle East, even resulting in nuclear war. On his flight back from Bangladesh on 2 December 2017, he declared, “we are at the limit, because of nuclear arsenals which risk destroying ‘the great part of humanity”. He urged that nuclear weapons be banned entirely.
That’s the concluding line in the 2018-2019 Social Justice Statement of the Australian Catholic Bishops, titled A place to call home – making a home for everyone in our land.
Clearly, that is a sentiment with which we can readily agree. But there is less ready agreement in its implementation.
And this tension shows in the Statement. Two thirds of the document detail the alleged causes of what it calls ‘The Housing Crisis’, a third to what might be done to end ‘This Homelessness Tragedy.’
The imbalance is back to front. The Statement should predominantly be telling all of us, but particularly those of us who count ourselves Christian, what we can do. Now.
Professor Mark Howden & Rebecca Colvin
A landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, commissioned at the breakthrough 2015 summit that brokered the Paris climate agreement, outlines what’s at stake in the world’s bid to limit global temperature rise to 1.5℃.
The report, released today, sets out the key practical differences between the Paris agreement’s two contrasting goals: to limit the increase of human-induced global warming to well below 2℃, and to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5℃.
Two and a half years in the making, the report provides vital information about whether the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious goal is indeed achievable, what the future may look like under it, and the risks and rewards of hitting the target.
A world at peace with itself: elusive dream, or achievable goal?
Sunday 11 November 2 to 5:15pm
The Islamic Council of Victoria
372 Spencer Street Melbourne West
Book here. $10 (concession $5). Enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prof Allan Patience will speak on Australia: dependent middle power, or global citizen? Conversation will follow with Emeritus Prof Marilyn Lake, Mr Mohamed Mohideen Islamic Council of Victoria, and Prof John Wiseman Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute.
Emeritus Prof Joe Camilleri will also outline the April 23-24 2019 conference on A just and ecologically sustainable peace, with its list of outstanding international and Australian speakers.
SPC Video Selection
Speaking at an SPC forum on 21 June 2018, Caesar D’Mello outlined how church and social networks are questioning ‘just war’ rhetoric, often invoked in military conflicts, and looking to non-violence methods for securing peace and human rights.
Caesar is a consultant on development, peace and conflict, mass tourism, and the impact of climate change on the Global South. He has been director of the Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism, Christian World Service, and on the National Council of Churches in Australia. This year, he attended a conference of Pax Christi in France on issues of peace and non-violence.