We need to think differently

May 16, 2016

People from around here will feel the impact of the recent Federal Budget, but not necessarily only in the way they imagine.

My shoulders drooped as I listened to the oft-repeated mantra of ‘‘jobs and growth’’ as I sensed many here would be warming up to join the chorus seemingly unaware that ‘‘less’’ is what we need, not ‘‘more’’.

In a world seriously troubled by human-induced climate disruption, policies and budgets based on 20th Century values and ideas will simply not work.

Rather than look back for solutions and employ ideas offensive to the planet, Mr Turnbull, and his cohort need to lift their gaze and see that the unfolding world of the 21st Century will be strikingly different and instead of the much-cited and inappropriate exhortation for jobs and growth, our leaders should be helping create and build a community able to thrive in an energy constrained future.

Such an idea undoubtedly doesn’t fit with the ideologies of either of Australia’s major political parties with both pandering to the populist ideas and values that have hardened since the Industrial Revolution to become an entrenched societal practice.

Living here in the Goulburn Valley doesn’t provide us with any protection from climate change for the south-east corner of Australia is experiencing changes to both weather and seasons, just as is the case around the world.

With the ideologically trapped Federal Government turning its back on climate science and our state government doing something but treading carefully for fear of breaching its limited mandate, the responsibility to actually do something now falls upon the City of Greater Shepparton.

That would not be unusual, for while many national governments hesitate and procrastinate, and state bodies call for yet another report, many cities have taken up the dropped batten and have introduced projects and ideas into their respective local government areas that will lead to resilience and sustainability, and along with that play their part in the wider reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

And so what do we do?

Let’s begin with the city’s transport strategy, which presents us with a wonderful opportunity to think deeply and seriously about what the Shepparton of tomorrow should look like, how it should work and how the people who live here should move about.

Yes, a wonderful opportunity, one that is either the moment when we decide to create a city able to cope with the climate-disrupted future or opt for the status quo and wander aimlessly down the same endless and, as time will show, a rather rough road.

Courageous decisions will see a city that prioritises and is friendly to pedestrians; encourages cyclists in the same way; introduces electric (solar-charged) transit; and produces reasons about our need for sophisticated inter-town public transport (trains, light or otherwise) that eclipse any contra-arguments put by our state or federal governments.

Idealistic? Yes, but if we are to find our way through the troubled times ahead, it is essential we think differently and escape from the fossilised ideas of the current Federal Budget, presented as an ‘‘economic plan for the future’’.

By--Rob McLean (former Shepparton News editor)

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