The truth about Cate and Bronte Campbell.

Cate and Bronte Campbell are darlings of Australian sport. The sisters won multiple world and Olympic medals for Australia and endeared themselves to the public with their dedication and wholesome image. Since retiring from the pool, however, they have tarnished their impeccable reputation.

In 2021, Cate and Bronte signed an open letter calling on Australia’s leaders to take bold action on climate change to protect “our Australian way of life, including sport at every level.” The initiative is called The Cool Down and is headed by former Wallabies captain David Pocock. In particular, The Cool Down has backed scientific calls for the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions before 2050.

In a statement during the release of The Cool Down, Bronte said:

“…sport has given me everything I dreamed of and more. And it’s given me a platform. A chance to join my voice with others and advocate for change. Signing up to The Cool Down was a way to say I care, we care, and you should too. We should all care about how we’re treating the planet and how we’re going to fix it. We should all care about emissions, and not just because of the planet. We’re not just fighting for nature, we’re fighting for our way of life. Climate change will impact every aspect of how we live, including how we play sport – the thing that has told so many of us that we are Australian.”

Less than 12 months later, the truth about Cate and Bronte has been revealed. The sisters appear in TV commercials promoting Hancock Prospecting during the Commonwealth Games, where Cate is working as a poolside interviewer. The corporation makes millions of dollars from cattle farming and coal mining and Gina Rinehart is a proud climate change denier.

How can someone support action on climate change and support coal mining?

Hancock Prospecting is not a small player in the mining or agricultural industries. It describes itself as:

“…a diversified company group with interests in iron ore, coal, beef, dairy as well as continuing mineral exploration and development.” Coal mining, beef and diary farming are three of the biggest drivers of climate change. Meanwhile, Hancock Prospecting also owns Queensland Coal Investments, which is currently focused on coal exploration in Queensland, as well as Minerals Australia, which is focused on oil and gas exploration in the Beetaloo Basin, Northern Territory. Critics argue Rinehart’s proposed mine in the Beetaloo could be even more destructive than the infamous Adani mine. Rinehart dominates mining in a country with the highest per capita carbon footprint of any nation on earth.

Were the Campbell sisters aware of this when they agreed to appear in the TV commercials? If so, how were two environmentally-conscious athletes persuaded to appear in the ads?

During their swimming careers, the sisters had no choice. They were obliged to pose for photos alongside Rinehart as the mining magnate has long been a very generous sponsor of Swimming Australia. Furthermore, the swimmers received direct financial support totalling about $32,000 per year as athletes on the top tier of Swimming Australia. Cate acknowledged this support in The Financial Review in 2021.

“I don’t say this lightly, but Gina Rinehart saved swimming. Gina Rinehart stepped in [after sponsors had withdrawn funding in 2012]. She made funds available that went directly to athletes. This allowed many athletes – myself included – to see that there was a future career in swimming for us.”

Very few full-time athletes would reject this amount of financial support, but the Campbell sisters are also environmental advocates – apparently.

As retired athletes Cate and Bronte are now autonomous and free-thinking citizens of Australia able to make entirely independent choices about their career choices and professional partnerships. It appears the champions of Aussie swimming now have a choice to make.

Image: AAP

Why Manly players should boycott the NRL.

Manly players of Pasifika heritage should boycott the NRL and should encourage other players to do so.

Several Manly players recently announced their refusal to wear a pride jersey promoting LGBTQIA+ rights because it conflicts with their strict religious beliefs. The incident has sparked massive controversy and is set to distract from the Women in League round which is designed to praise and promote the women who make a massive contribution to rugby league.

Critics have blasted their homophobic stance and their decision to potentially destroy the team’s finals hopes, while others have defended their right to express their personal religious beliefs and to stay true to those convictions. The incident even drew a response from the only openly gay NRL player, former Manly forward Ian Roberts.

Manly players should boycott the NRL, but not because of a rainbow jersey. They should boycott the NRL, and encourage other rugby players to do so, to protest Australia’s inaction on tackling climate change.

Australia has the highest per-capita rate of carbon emissions in the world. Countries such as Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, from which so many NRL and Super Rugby players descend, face an existential threat from rising sea levels. Rising sea levels are the result of the climate crisis and the climate crisis is being driven by traditional agricultural practices and fossil fuels.

Australia relies heavily on cattle and diary farming, and on fossil fuels. It also relies heavily upon Pasifika rugby players at the top level. For this reason, Pasifika players are in a unique position to advocate for action to tackle climate change.

At the time of writing, 16 of the 34 players in the Wallabies squad were of Pasifika heritage, and about 50% of NRL players share the same ancestry. That’s just the men’s game. Pasifika players are powerful ball runners, powerful tacklers and powerful advocates for action on climate change – they just don’t realise the latter.

If every player of Pasifika heritage boycotted one round of the NRL, or the Super Rugby Australia competition, it would throw those competitions into complete disarray. Not only would clubs struggle to field a team, but they would struggle to field a competitive team considering the talent and influence of Pasifika players. Put simply, you can’t win a game of NRL or Super Rugby these days without Pasifika players. Even European nations are ‘acquiring’ this talent for their national teams.

Pasifika players should unite and boycott one round of the respective competition, or even an entire season considering the urgency of climate action. They should widely publicise the reason for their stance and make clear demands for improved action to tackle climate change. They should demand no new fossil fuel projects, and improved farming methods which would reduce the carbon emissions, as well as reductions to land clearing, and other measures. This could be done in conjunction with similar formal requests from the leaders of Pacific Island nations – requests which have already been made, and ignored, by successive Australian governments.

If Australia takes meaningful action to tackle climate change, the players would return to their respective teams.

The technology, resources, expertise and willingness exist to transition away from fossil fuels and traditional agricultural practices. All that is needed is a change in the behaviour of governments and corporations.

Pasifika players are in a position to advocate for this change because of their importance to the two codes. Every club fields a large number of Pasifika players; Queensland and NSW also rely on their talent during State of Origin; and the Wallabies are increasingly ‘multicultural’. Such is the depth of talent that the last time the Kangaroos played in 2019, they lost to Tonga.

In the case of Super Rugby Pacific, two teams are made up entirely of Pasifika players: Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua. They were introduced to the competition in 2022 in recognition of the prevalence of Fijian, Samoan and Tongan players at the elite level. Removing two entire teams from a round of Super Rugby would have an even greater impact on the competition, and send a very clear message.

Pasifika rugby league and rugby union players are also in a unique position to reach two specific audiences. NRL fans are traditionally working class people who are likely to work in the fossil fuel or farming industries, and are more likely to consume the Murdoch media which is denying climate crisis and stifling action to address it. Super Rugby fans, meanwhile, traditionally emerge from the private school system and are likely to join the political parties which sustain agriculture and mining (with massive subsidies from Aussie taxpayers) or to own or manage the corporations at the top of those industries. NRL and Super Rugby players are in a unique position to communicate with NRL and Super Rugby fans to change their attitudes towards tackling climate change.

Perhaps a substandard round of rugby, or a severely depleted Wallabies team, will jolt Australians out of their climate apathy.

Individual players do assume a great risk. Like any ‘strike’ or protest action, the participants stand to lose. Players could lose match payments, their contracts or their place in the first-grade team if they sit out for one game or more. Each player would have to assess the risk to their career and their income, and weight that up against the risk to their ancestral lands.

Players would also face significant criticism. They would face criticism from their teammates, coaches and clubs, as well as fans and the media. The Murdoch media would no doubt manipulate the action for their own benefit and the players would be the ones to suffer reputational damage. That said, the situation facing is so desperate and the consequences so serious that Pasifika NRL and Super Rugby players should consider boycotting their respective competitions to force Australia to tackle climate change.

Australia expecting a flood of medals in Paris 2024.

Australia will be drowning in medals at the 2024 Olympic Games thanks to the support of mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

Rinehart recently announced a sponsorship deal with the Australian Olympic Committee through her company Hancock Prospecting, which will see Australia inundated with Olympic medals and extreme weather events until 2026.

The lucrative deal includes financial support of Australian Olympic teams at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, and the Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics in February 2026, as well as the Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon 2024 and in Dakar 2026, plus the Pacific Games in 2023.

“Hancock Prospecting is a great contributor to Australia,” announced a spokesperson for the deal.

“The company has contributed so much to our sporting teams over the years, and has contributed even more to our massive carbon footprint, rising sea levels, rising global temperatures, floods, fires and Australia’s worsening international reputation on climate action. More importantly, the company has contributed millions of dollars to the Institute of Public Affairs, which published a climate change review paper in 2017 that claimed most global heating was natural, a claim which experts rejected as “flawed” and “junk science”.

The spokesperson then explained some of the finer details of the arrangement.

“We must win a lot of medals before 2026, especially at the Winter events, because Ms Rinehart’s mining operations will ensure that there is no snow or ice on which to compete after 2026.”

Hancock Prospecting has a long-standing connection with sports such as swimming and rowing at international level and is credited with helping individual athletes win medals at major championships. Observers had wondered why the company chose to focus on sports such as these, until it was explained that Australia and much of the South Pacific will soon be under water due to fossil fuels, so developing competence in swimming and rowing is logical.

Various organisations have slammed the deal.

Queensland Conservation Council’s director Dave Copeman was “furious” at the decision, and was quoted as saying:

“There’s a real question of how much does a couple of big cheques to Swimming Australia and the AOC buy you out of a history of environmental devastation.”

“How the hell did they do this? What are they thinking?”

Supporters of the deal rejected such criticism.

“Look, it’s simple. Sport is a business. Medals cost money. If you want Aussies to win medals you have to put up with bushfires, floods, food shortages, crop failures, air pollution, disruption, climate refugees and more extreme weather events.”

“A lifetime occupying an unlivable planet is nothing compared to five minutes of patriotic fervour.”

More Kayaks to Inundate Rushcutters Bay.

Rushcutters Bay is awash with kayaks as savvy paddlers prepare for the region’s conversion into the world’s first designated underwater village.

Residents had attributed the takeover of local parks to lockdown fads and a lack of storage space in tiny local apartments, but were surprised to hear that the owners are preparing for the impending rise in sea levels which will soon convert the region into an underwater village.

Images of local beaches completely disappearing under massive swells and huge tides confirmed to locals that kayaks and other waterborne vessels will soon replace gas-guzzling cars as the preferred method of transport for residents from Elizabeth Bay to South Head.

The southern harbour region was chosen for the grand experiment for a number of reasons. Residents adhere to a misguided belief that they live in a village, they cling obsessively to the shoreline, they are devoted to renovating and they traditionally vote conservative.

“This is a safe federal Liberal seat, and it is obvious to the educated that the Coalition has become merely a front for the fossil fuel industry. It is thus fitting to carry out this experiment in a region which is both driving climate change and is in line to suffer its effects,” declared a spokesperson for Sydney Underwater Village (SUV).

“The underwater village also guarantees every resident the one thing that brings meaning to their lives – uninterrupted water views.”

Renovation hobbyists will be ecstatic to learn that every house in the region must be refitted for underwater living. Air-tight glass houses will run on wave power and hydro energy, making Australia the first country to make an involuntary transition to renewable energy.

Existing marinas will be augmented to placate Gina Rinehart, and Australians will finally understand why the mining magnate prefers to sponsor water-based sports. Fortunately for locals, their luxury yachts will enjoy even greater tax deductions, and will run entirely on wind power, except at night time.

Daylight saving will be dispensed with and hungry locals will be able to select their dinner as it swims by the window, while local Dads will never tire of telling their kids that underwater living brings new meaning to the term ‘school’. There will be no need to spend hours cleaning the backyard swimming pool, and barnacles will be removed by low-paid migrant workers once their islands are swallowed by the ocean.

Harbourside homes will also serve as prototypes before the initiative is extended to houses overlooking the eastern beaches, and life beneath the surface will deliver two exciting developments to beachside residents:

Surfers will be able to surf from their front door, and locals will finally stop whingeing about car parking.

First published in The Beast magazine, June 2022

Image: Anita Denunzio

Mexico City by bike.

Surely you can’t cycle through Mexico City.

It’s a chaotic, crazy, polluted, frantic city of about 20 million people and almost as many cars. It’s so busy people push each other into train carriages on the metro, and the central business district drowns in traffic jams full of frustrated motorists on a daily basis.

The peak hour rush is more of a peak hour grind.

And yet, it is possible to cycle.

Sunday Ciclovia, or Cycleway, opens 55 kilometres of the central business district to cyclists, pedestrians, and rollerbladers with strollers from 8am – 2pm, and closes the streets to motor vehicles. People take over the famous Paseo de la Reforma and revel in the festival atmosphere of car-free streets. And, being Mexico, the bike ride feels like a party.

On the last Sunday of each month, the Ciclovía expands into a Ciclotón (longer route), stretching up to 97 kilometers across Mexico City and encompassing several highways.

During Ciclovia, hundreds of Chilangos (residents of Mexico City) and visitors cycle freely and happily through a portion of the CBD and soak up the renowned colonial architecture and aspects of the city that are rendered invisible by the daily grind.

But I don’t have a bike.

That’s ok. Bikes can be hired from various locations within the city, for a few pesos. Sturdy, comfortable bikes are available to all, as are helmets, and they offer people the opportunity to navigate the city in a unique manner.

Why?

Environmental activists and concerned Chilangos lobbied authorities for years to remove gas-guzzling motor vehicles from the city streets and reserve this space for cyclists and pedestrians. They did so to promote alternative transport and to encourage locals to consider moving around the city without a car. They also did it to allow cyclists to ride in peace and safety, even if only once a week, and to prove that cities can be returned to the people.

Plus, they wanted another excuse to smile, socialise and enjoy life, because this is Mexico.

Ciclovia began as “Muévete en bici” (Move by Bike) in 2007. It grew to become the fifth largest car-free day in Latin America, with an estimated 4.2 million total users. It has also reportedly altered the culture of the city, and the Non-Motorized Mobility Strategy Office has in turn created the ECOBICI bike-share program and a dedicated bike lane network.

Is it necessary?

Yes, Mexico City is an extremely polluted city, due largely to the number of motor vehicles using its roads every day. Such is the level of air pollution in the mega city that its forested park ‘Bosque de Chapultepec’ is known as los pulmones del DF, or the lungs of the capital.

Ciclovia happens every Sunday in Mexico City and is open to anyone on a bike, roller blades, skateboard, scooter or even their dos patas or two feet. It is a refreshing and fun way in which to explore a fascinating and bustling destination and it helps, ever so slightly, to breathe fresh air into the city.

If it can be done in Mexico City, it can be done in almost any city – even yours.

Who else is guilty of Rainbow Washing?

Rainbow Washing is the process of using rainbow motifs to claim allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community in the place of any tangible action, and is common among individuals, governments and corporations. But can we use the term to describe another form of questionable behaviour?

Can we use it to describe the process by which LGBTQIA+ issues are promoted to distract people from unethical behaviour of organisations in other spheres?

AGL is the most famous perpetrator of this form of Rainbow Washing.

The Australian energy company was recently awarded Gold Employer status for LGBTQ+ inclusion at the AWEI Awards, while simultaneously earning the title of Australia’s biggest domestic contributor to climate change by Greenpeace. Greenpeace argues that AGL emitted 42.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2019-2020. Greenpeace data confirms that the energy company creates,

“…24.6% of electricity sector emissions and 8% of Australia’s total emissions, which primarily comes from the coal burned at the energy giant’s three coal-burning power stations: Liddell, Bayswater, and Loy Yang A. AGL’s own data confirms that 85% of energy generated by the gentailer comes from burning coal.”

At the same time, AGL boasts publicly that:

“This is the third year we have been awarded Gold Employer status, and the fifth year that we have participated in the AWEI. Our employee-driven LGBTQ+ network, AGL Shine, was created in 2014. The network focuses on providing a safe and inclusive environment for all our employees – while also advocating internally and externally for gender inclusion beyond the heteronormative binary.”

Political correctness?

Ironically, organisations such as AGL could be accused of harnessing political correctness to protect their public image. Ironic, because the defenders of fossil fuels are often the loudest critics of ‘political correctness’. Essentially, organisations like AGL promote their diversity and inclusion credentials to stifle criticism of their environmental destruction by saying,

‘You can’t criticise us because then you’re criticising LGBT+ people, and that’s not politically correct’.

Consequently, LGBT+ people are being used and exploited in order to allow AGL to continue polluting.

Tim Wilson

To what extent did Australian former member of parliament Tim Wilson benefit from this definition of Rainbow Washing?

Wilson is gay and was widely praised for his role in the successful campaign to approve same-sex marriage in Australia, but to what extent did he exploit his sexuality to stay in power?

Wilson was involved in various controversies. There was no mainstream media investigation into strong allegations that Wilson was involved in immoral activities in the parliamentary prayer room with other prominent LNP politicians. The opposition Labor Party also called for his sacking due to alleged conflicts of interest and a “massive breach” of parliamentary conventions surrounding the use of a taxpayer-funded inquiry to spearhead partisan campaigning against Labor’s policy on franking credits. Then, of course, was yet another controversy when he claimed $37,494 from taxpayers in travel allowance after leaving Melbourne’s brutal COVID-19 lockdown for 95 nights during 2021.

Did Rainbow Washing keeping Wilson in power, or did former Prime Minister Scott Morrison?

The Easy Way Out

Promoting diversity and inclusion is easier than taking real action on other issues. Creating a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people is encouraging, but let’s not beat around the bush – how hard is it to be inclusive in 2022?

Encouraging diversity essentially means treating everyone equally. Even if AGL does genuinely support LGBTQIA+ people in the workplace, what exactly does this entail?

It involves affirming the Darlington Statement which articulates the human rights demands of people with intersex variations. A statement written by someone else.

Does it involve AGL, or other organisations, paying a diversity trainer or consultant to conduct training sessions on diversity with employees, or hosting social days to celebrate diversity?

Does it involve allowing all staff to choose their own pronouns and updating HR documents, or posting the rainbow motif on all social media platforms?

It might even include sponsoring a float in Mardi Gras or other LGBT+ events. It might involve targeted employment or other active steps. They might even make a difference to the lives of employees. But how much profit does AGL make in a year, and what percentage of that profit is spent on LGBT+ inclusion?

Either way, winning an award for diversity inclusion does not change the fact that AGL is still Australia’s biggest polluter.

Coca Cola

Joining AGL are multinational corporations such as Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle. Coca Cola was ranked the world’s No.1 plastic polluter by Break Free From Plastic in 2020, ahead of rival PepsiCo, in second, and Nestle in third. The BFFP audit found that Coca Cola’s beverage bottles were the most frequently found discarded on beaches, rivers, parks and other litter sites in 51 of 55 nations surveyed. Last year it was the most frequently littered bottle in 37 countries, out of 51 surveyed. It was found to be worse than PepsiCo and Nestle combined: Coca-Cola branding was found on 13,834 pieces of plastic, with PepsiCo branding on 5,155 and Nestlé branding on 8,633, according to the audit.

At the same time, all three corporations boast of their inclusion and diversity policies.

Coca Cola claims that:

Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of our values and our growth strategy and play an important part in our company’s success.

PepsiCo

PepsiCo, meanwhile, boasts on its website…

“…in 2015 PepsiCo demonstrated its commitment to LGBT+ consumers through its rainbow-colored Doritos.”

That’s right. It’s primary claim to LGBT+ inclusion and ethical business practices is rainbow coloured Doritos. This is a perfect example of Rainbow Washing. A perfect example of superficial change and marketing spin designed to protect the corporation from its plastic waste. Don’t forget, the packaging adorned with rainbows is soft plastic.

PepsiCo does go on to say that each rollout of the rainbow Dorritos raised funds for “…organizations including the It Gets Better Project, Fundación en Movimiento, Casa 1 and Cuenta Conmigo, Diversidad Sexual Incluyente A.C.”

Further to this, PepsiCo has also supported the LGBT+ community through social media campaigns to engage consumers and sponsorships of local pride parades around the world.

What were we saying about rainbow motifs and sponsorship?

Another word for ‘social media campaigns’ is ‘slacktivism’.

Furthermore, the funds donated to those causes were only available if consumers bought the product. Thus, a large percentage of the funds came from the public, not solely from PepsiCo.

Let’s also remember that Dorritos are very unhealthy and this initiative was implemented in North America and Mexico (which is technically in North America) and these two countries have some of the world’s highest rates of obesity, especially among children. The rainbow is thus also distracting the public from the company’s contribution to a public health crisis.

PepsiCo also reminds visitors to its website that:

In March 2019, the Human Rights Campaign awarded PepsiCo a perfect score for our LGBT+ workplace initiatives and designated us the Best Place to Work for LGBTQ equality. In the same year, PepsiCo was one of the world’s worst plastic polluters. A perfect example of Rainbow Washing.

Nestle

Nestle came in third for plastic pollution and carries an extensive list of diversity achievements on its website. Among these boasts are

Support of the UN’s LGBTI Standard of Conduct for Business.

Running workshops and e-learning for employees. See above.

Equal parental support benefits to same-sex and different-sex couples.

Partnering with LGBT+ advocacy groups throughout the world.

Offering unlimited financial support for medical costs to employees undergoing gender transition. Also in Brazil, we offer legal and administrative support to transgender employees who are in the process of recertifying their name and gender.

One might ask, how can a company afford to do all of this for its LGBT+ employees?

By covering the world in plastic waste.

Again, this is all encouraging, but Nestle ignores the fact that its vast plastic pollution destroys the natural environment on which everyone relies, regardless of their gender or sexuality. Praising efforts to promote diversity and inclusion while destroying the planet on which those people live is another perfect example of Rainbow Washing.

Image: Mateus Campos Felipe

Was it ScoMo or Hanson?

Who is responsible, Scott Morrison or Pauline Hanson?

Which of these Australian politicians is responsible for the destruction of yet more Australian wildlife?

Morrison and Hanson both handled wombats in recent years and now a large proportion of the nation’s wombats suffer from mange. Coincidence?

Mange is one of the biggest killers of wombats. The mange mite buries itself under the wombat’s skin triggering extreme itchiness which makes the wombat scratch, causing open wounds and scabs to form.  These become infected, the wombat loses condition, becomes dehydrated, malnourished and slowly dies. The good news is, it can be treated.

The Wombat Protection Society of Australia is working to eliminate that threat. WPSA is a national non-profit organisation created to raise awareness and money in order to provide wombats with immediate protection from harm. WPSA enhances quality of life, funds projects that develop and protect suitable habitat, and provides sanctuaries for Australian wombats.

Mange is considered to be the major health issue impacting wombat welfare. It is caused by the parasitic mite sarcoptes scabiei, and the society has brought attention and action to this issue by encouraging and supporting research and collaboration in the treatment and prevention of mange in both free living and in-care wombats.

Wombat conservation occurs throughout Australia but is carried out almost exclusively by volunteers. Very little government funding is provided to wombat protection groups, and Morrison and Hanson could change this; Morrison especially. Instead, both politicians exploited wombats for photo opportunities instead of substantially increasing funding for their protection.

The One Nation leader posed for a bizarre photo with a distressed wombat while campaigning. She straddled it before appearing to knee it in the back in a move that’s not even legal in the NRL or Super Rugby. That wombat is likely to be suffering a lot more than mange.

Morrison appears extremely uncomfortable handling the wombat during his photo opp, but one can’t expect a man to offer empathy to an animal if he can’t even offer it to humans.

Morrison and Hanson attract an equal amount of suspicion. Both are populist leaders more capable of slogans and photo opportunities than actual policy formation or genuine action. Both utilise racism and the gullibility of semi-literate Australians to maintain their power, and both have a terrible track record on issues of environmental sustainability during their terms.

So who gave the mange to Australia’s lovable native animals?

Was it Scott Morrison or Pauline Hanson?

Images: AAP, ABC

AGL welcomes everyone…

Australian energy company AGL invites everyone…to suffer.

AGL is Australia’s biggest polluter but has also won awards for diversity inclusion, indicating that it welcomes everyone to suffer from the effects of climate change.

The company was recently awarded Gold Employer status for LGBTQ+ inclusion at the AWEI Awards, while simultaneously earning the title of Australia’s biggest domestic contributor to climate change by Greenpeace. Greenpeace argues that AGL emitted 42.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2019-2020. Greenpeace data confirms that the energy company creates,

“…24.6% of electricity sector emissions and 8% of Australia’s total emissions, which primarily comes from the coal burned at the energy giant’s three coal-burning power stations: Liddell, Bayswater, and Loy Yang A. AGL’s own data confirms that 85% of energy generated by the gentailer comes from burning coal.”

At the same time, AGL boasts publicly that:

“This is the third year we have been awarded Gold Employer status, and the fifth year that we have participated in the AWEI. Our employee-driven LGBTQ+ network, AGL Shine, was created in 2014. The network focuses on providing a safe and inclusive environment for all our employees – while also advocating internally and externally for gender inclusion beyond the heteronormative binary.”

Creating a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people in encouraging, but let’s not beat around the bush. How hard is it to be inclusive in 2022?

Encouraging diversity essentially means treating everyone equally.

How hard is that?

Even if AGL does genuinely support LGBTQIA+ people in the workplace, what exactly does this entail?

It involves affirming the Darlington Statement which articulates the human rights demands of people with intersex variations. A statement written by someone else.

Does it involve paying a diversity trainer or consultant to conduct training sessions on diversity with employees, or hosting social days to celebrate diversity?

Does it involve allowing all staff to choose their own pronouns, and updating HR documents, or posting the rainbow motif on all social media platforms?

It might even include sponsoring a float in Mardi Gras, targeted employment or other active steps. They might even make a difference to the lives of employees.

Remember, however, that government schools throughout Australia are just as inclusive as AGL, but they don’t win awards. They also do so with a fraction of the money available to AGL. They do it with underpaid, overworked, undervalued teachers.

Did AGL win an award because it operates within the resource sector, and is the resource sector full of bigots?

Either way, winning an award for diversity inclusion does not change the fact that AGL is still Australia’s biggest polluter. It does not change the fact that:

Lesbians will suffer from climate change

Gay people will suffer from climate change

Bisexual people will suffer from climate change

Trans people will suffer from climate change

Queer people will suffer from climate change

Intersexed people will suffer from climate change

Asexual people will suffer from climate change

That’s not all.

Males will suffer from climate change

Females will suffer from climate change

Men will suffer from climate change

Women will suffer from climate change

Non binary people will suffer from climate change

Gender neutral/Androgynous people will suffer from climate change

Gender fluid people will suffer from climate change

Agender people will suffer from climate change

Cisgender people will suffer from climate change

Demigender people will suffer from climate change

Gender questioning people will suffer from climate change

Genderqueer people will suffer from climate change

Intergender people will suffer from climate change

Multi-gender, bigender and trigender people will suffer from climate change

Pangender will suffer from climate change

Bois, Tomboys will suffer from climate change

Butch/masc people will suffer from climate change

Femme people will suffer from climate change

Gender noncomforming will suffer from climate change

To the LGBTQIA+ community, don’t be fooled by AGL’s slick marketing campaign. You will suffer the effects of climate change.

To the LGBTQIA+ community, don’t let AGL exploit you to distract Australians from their climate destruction.

The cats eating Australia.

Cats are eating Australia alive. Cats kill millions of native animals every year and one region has introduced a plan that may well save many adorable Aussie animals from death or extinction.

Cats are estimated to kill about 1.5 billion native animals per annum in Australia. This destruction is the work of domestic cats, stray cats and feral cats. All of these cats are derived from pet cats, as feline species have never been native to Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 1994 only 26% of domestic cats were confined both during the day and night. This means 74% of cats where roaming happily, hunting and destroying native wildlife. In the same year, 42,126 cats were dumped on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Only 3% of the cats were reclaimed and 74% were put down.

Feral cats threaten at least 124 Australian species which are in danger of extinction, and cats are a major reason that Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world – not per capita – outright.

Chantel Benbow is an ecologist, and some would say a hypocrite. She owns a cat and lets it roam free at night around the streets of inner Sydney. Her cat does wear a bib developed by Murdoch University, and utilised widely in the Eurobodalla Council region on the NSW far south coast. The bib claims to distract the cat from the prey, and to stop 81 per cent of cats from catching birds, 45 per cent of cats from catching mammals, and 33 per cent of cats from catching lizards and amphibians.

Not 100%.

That said, Benbow still advises:

“If you want to have a pet cat, keep it indoors because they are hunters. They are beautiful, they are cute and fluffy but they will kill something.”

This is why the Australian Capital Territory has introduced a policy that could save thousands of native Australian animals.

The policy requires all new pet cats obtained after July 1, 2022 to be contained indoors or in a cat run. It does, however, allow cats acquired before July 1, 2022 to roam free if their owners do not live in a new Canberra suburb. These cats can happily kill native wildlife every day and night. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

Another law change allows cat owners to walk their cat on a lead, which is actually prohibited, not just odd. This applies to 17 designated cat containment suburbs in the territory. Cats will also have to be registered, just like dogs, under the new law.

The maximum penalty for breaching the law is $1,600.

Politicians announcing the new law boasted that the ACT is a leader in cat containment.

“The ACT government wants to minimise the impacts of domestic cats on native wildlife by reducing the number of feral, unowned and semi-owned cats through more de-sexing, improved domestic cat welfare and management practices, better ways to identify lost cats and reunite them with their owners,” Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said.

“Every year, free-roaming but owned Canberra cats are estimated to prey on 61,000 native birds, 2,000 native mammals, 30,000 native reptiles and 6,000 native frogs.

The ACT is not the first region to introduce some form of ban on pet cats in order to save Australia’s wildlife.

The municipality of Knox in Victoria has introduced a 24-hour cat curfew on all domestic cats to come into effect on October 1, 2021. Cats must be confined to their owner’s property at all times and the new law was established for one primary reason; to protect native wildlife.

Owners face fines for failure to comply, and the rationale for the law also sites general nuisance and safety for cats. However, it is not difficult to read between the lines of the government document and determine the primary motivation for the move.

The council in Melbourne states that there are “…currently over 6,500 cats registered with Council.” Even if each cat kills only one native animal per day, that municipality will lose 6,500 native animals every day. In the space of a year…

The law should have been introduced long ago. It should be nationwide policy.

The municipality of Knox trialled the curfew in 2020 and more than 86% of residents are said to have supported the continuation of the program, including cat owners themselves.

Opponents or critics of the curfew might also argue that it is not necessary because they put a bell on their cat’s collar to alert wildlife. Their cats then roam guilt-free. Blue Mountains City Council, which administers a large area surrounded by national park, claims:

“Bells on collars don’t always work. Cats with bells can learn to stalk prey silently,” and

“…native animals don’t associate the sound of bells with danger.”

Other Australian communities have also introduce such a ban. Mount Barker near Adelaide implemented a similar law in 2019. The law proposed penalties for cats found roaming freely between 8pm and 7am, and a limit of two cats per property. The community lobbied for the law after becoming sick of domestic cats defecating on people’s properties, fighting in gardens and killing wildlife.

Similar laws aimed at protecting wildlife have also been trialled or implemented in Gawler, Adelaide Hills, Marion and Campbelltown in South Australia. The law in Gawler included a provision to ‘seize, detain and destroy’ any cat caught roaming within its boundaries if the animal isn’t claimed by its owner within three days.

Various forms of cat curfews are also being considered in locations such as Yarra Range Council in Victoria and Wollondilly Council in Sydney. Interestingly, a councillor from Wollondilly Council, Simon Landow, was quoted as saying that the plan had been met with great support, but that the rules had no teeth unless the state government enacted similar legislation.

Mount Barker, Knox and many of the regions mentioned above feature residential areas which adjoin an area of bushland or open space, where native wildlife can still be found. If that wildlife is to survive, a cat curfew must be implemented across the nation.

Image: david_g_bevan_writer

Do you love wombats?

Wombats are cute and cuddly, furry and funny. They waddle their fat little bodies in and out of their burrows and give birth to impossibly cute babies. They’re some of the cutest animals on the planet. Some might say they’re as cute as koalas.

They’re also under threat.

Mange is one of the biggest killers of wombats. The mange mite buries itself under the wombat’s skin triggering extreme itchiness which makes the wombat scratch, causing open wounds and scabs to form.  These become infected, the wombat loses condition, becomes dehydrated, malnourished and slowly dies. The good news is, it can be treated.

The Wombat Protection Society of Australia is working to eliminate that threat. WPSA is a national non-profit organisation created to raise awareness and money in order to provide wombats with immediate protection from harm. We enhance quality of life, fund projects that develop and protect suitable habitat and provide sanctuaries for Australian wombats.

Mange is considered to be the major health issue impacting wombat welfare. It is caused by the parasitic mite sarcoptes scabiei, and the society has brought attention and action to this issue by encouraging and supporting research and collaboration in the treatment and prevention of mange in both free living and in-care wombats. For more information, contact WPSA at mange@wombatprotection.org.au

You can help

Wombat rescue programs operate throughout Australia, and many are staffed by volunteers. You could perform one of the following volunteer roles:

Field visits

Volunteers and full-time staff visit wombat habitat and establish and maintain wombat flaps. The flaps are placed in front of the wombats burrow and every time the wombat brushes the trap, liquid medicine is emptied onto the wombats back. This kills the mange.

The medicine is also administered via a scoop, like a scoop used to retrieve a golf ball from the water. Volunteers scout the wombat when it is out of its burrow, and approach it like an assassin. Instead of killing the wombat, they get close enough to pour the medicine on its back, then chase it to its burrow to check on the condition of the flap.

How fast is a wombat?

There’s one way to find out.

Let’s not beat around the bush (well, not yet). It’s not glamorous work, it’s quite physical, and it can be quite confronting. Seeing a wombat with mange is a horrible sight. Some people might be affected by it, and some may never be comfortable with it. If so, perhaps another role might suit you better.

DIY

Wombat flaps need to be constructed. At the moment, many are scraped together with donated or recycled materials including plastic take-away containers, vegemite jar lids and open for inspection signs. Someone with construction skills and a desire to save these beloved animals could create a more sturdy, permanent design for a wombat flap – you could do it all in your shed.

Administration

Administration is a large part of wombat protection, and can include any of the following tasks:

Website design

Data entry

Rostering

Letter writing

Grant requests

Social media marketing

Report collation

Event organisation

Education and teaching

To volunteer in an admin role, you don’t have to live near wombat habitat in order to help, in fact you don’t even have to leave the house. There are roles you could perform from the comfort of your loungeroom.

For further information and to find out how you can help protect these lovable creatures:

http://www.wombatprotection.org.au

info@wombatprotection.org.au

0448 087 994

Images: University of Tasmania, Getty Images, Australian Reptile Park, Paul Looyen