Environmental movement of Australian started in the nineteenth century. This movement is also one of the earliest environmental movements of the world. Australian environmental movement was started by Europeans who were settled in Australia. European settlers had high regard for the environment and they used to care for natural sanctity. The movement started with the love of European settlers for the nature and it converted into awareness to maintain the unique biodiversity in its natural form. Their awareness took shape of an environment movement. This paper intends to discuss the environmental movement of Australia along with looking into history of the Australian environment movement.
European settlers were settled in the Australia during eighteenth century. They had a close connection with Australian nature and they started the environmental movement in the Australia when very few people used to talk about such issues in other parts of the world. Joseph Banks was one of the earliest environmentalists who travelled to Australia with Captain James Cook. Banks and various others like James Smith, Eugene Von Guerard and RM Collins were nature lovers who also raised their voices in favor of environment and spread awareness on environmental issues (Hutton and Connors, 1999).
Royal national park of Sydney was declared as first national park of Australia in the year 1879. This was a beginning of the conservation movement in Australia. The movement grew further and was strengthened with formation of clubs like Victorian Field Naturalists in the year 1880. A number of national parks were made as the conservation movement grew. Various zoological and naturalist clubs were also started in different parts of Australia. The number of environment lovers grew substantially in Australia.
Victorian Naturalists Society and other environmentalist groups started advocating for preserving Thylacine, a species that was at the verge of extinction due to excessive hunting in Tasmania. These people established Healesville sanctuary for various animals. David Stead led the first environmental campaign and established Wildlife Preservation Society in the year 1909 in Sydney. People started coming out of their houses on issues, related to the environment that compelled policy makers to consider the environmental issues in new perspectives. Various laws and policies were made to deal with environment related issues (Hutton and Connors, 1999).
A huge public outcry took place on the issue of extinction of Koalas. Around 4 million Koalas were hunted during 1915 to 1925 and they were at the verge of being extinct. Serious efforts were made by people and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was established to save Koalas from extinction. National Parks and Primitive Areas Council was founded in the year 1932 by Myles Dunphy in New South Wales. Such active participation by environmentalists accelerated the movement and gathered a huge support from Australians.
Eleanor Dark, a novelist from Sydney wrote “Sun Across the Sky” and described how local population struggle with property developers who want to grab their seashore in order to develop and sell it. Philip Crosbie Morrison started “Voice of Nature” a community radio in the year 1937. Morrison started his famous show “Wild Life” in the year 1938. The show was initially designed for six weeks but it became so popular that the show became national and its popularity compelled sponsors to continue the show. The show lasted for next twenty years and entertained and educated nature lovers of Australia (Hutton and Connors, 1999).
Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies released one thousand pound in the year 1964 to make Australian Conservation Foundation. In the year 1965, Australian littoral society was formed with the intention to preserve the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. First green political party of Australia was formed in the year 1972 by Lake Padder. Bob Brown was sent behind bars for his active participation in environmental movement. Tasmanian Wilderness Society was founded by this group to fight for the causes of environment.
Now environmental movement of Australia was strengthened enough to enter into next phase. Movements against wood chipping and mining started taking place in various parts of Australia. People demonstrated against wood chipping and tried to stop mining in the year 1975. Malcolm Fraser put a ban on sand mining on Fraser Island in the year 1976 after several demonstrations by environmentalist groups and led by Sinclair. The Fraser Island was converted into a national park. In same year Dr. Brown protested against the visit of U.S. warships. Dr. Brown pushed Franklin and received help from Tasmanian Wilderness Society (TWS) in the protest (Doyle, 2000).
In year 1979, a nonviolent protest movement i.e. Seminal Terania Creek NSW was carried out to protect the rainforest. The movement was successful and resulted in formation of six national parks. This was a major achievement of environmentalists. Neville Wran also took decision to forbid logging against rainforest in NSW. This movement was important because rainforest play a major role in maintaining environment and logging would have serious impacts in long-run.
In year 1982, a movement was carried out to stop the development of a dam. Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania decided to develop a dam as well as power station on Gordon River. The project was developed to increase the power output of present hydro-electric power station of the State and also to create more jobs. Formation of dam means death of Wild River and temperate rainforest. Therefore, Conservationist decided to presser Tasmania’s last wild river and temperate rainforest. Conservationist raised their objection on the formation of 70 km dam partially on Gordon and partially on Franklin River. The water reservoir was expected to be 27 times bigger than the Sydney Harbor (Doyle, 2000).
The movement was carried out on large scale to preserve the River and rainforest. Various people participated in the movement and 1200 people were arrested in order to stop the movement. However, movement succeeded and in year 1983, the formation of dam was stopped. Various efforts carried out to protect the environment and people who were involved in various movements saw a new hope when Environment Centre of the Northern Territory was established in the year 1983 (Doyle, 2000).
During 1980s environmental movement in Australia gained high popularity and growth. Transformation in Australian culture started when Australian population accepted environmental messages from rock bands such as Midnight Oil. Rock bands extended their support in polarizing communities on green movement. Green movement was spread across the Australia and special emphasis was placed on whaling in Pacific region and nuclear testing. The green movement impacted Australia in great way.
Environmental movement in Australia was not limited to a social issue, it became a political issue. Australian Labor Party tries to gain political benefits by capitalizing on the environment issue. ALP raised the environment issue during election campaign to gain popularity. National conservation & soil conservation were two focus areas of the ALP. Bob Hawke gave a famous speech “Our country, our future” in year 1989. During his speech Hawke mentioned that his party will plant more than one billion trees to fight with soil erosion. Hawke also declared 1990s a decade of land care.
In year 1989, Australian government brought new act ‘Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Act’. The main objective of the act was to abolish the application of chlorofluorocarbons in industries. Australian government became worried due to increasing incidences of skin cancer and widening Ozone hole. Government considered that it is time to take action or else the consequences could be serious. The time was to stop increasing pollution level and increase plantation (Doyle, 2000).
Shift in Keating government also shifted the focus of the government from environment protection to the economic development. Efforts to protect the environment were shifted to economic development activities. However, this shift did not stop environment movement and efforts of the people to protect their environment. Environmentalists kept contributing their efforts towards the betterment of the environment. They kept creating awareness on environmental issues.
In year 1989, a centre named Nudgee Beach Field Study Centre was opened to understand various aspects associated sea pollution and impact of pollution over environment. During 1990s various centers were formed in Australia to educate people on environmental issues. These institutions create awareness and help people in educating how to protect environment. In year 1999, Queensland & Outdoor Environmental Education Centers started working together to educate people.
In year 2005, New S. Wales and Victoria started trailing the initiative taken by Australian sustainable school. In year 2007, Queensland also initiated the Queensland sustainable schools initiative. In year 2009, movement was organized to educate primary school children on sustainability & science. This movement was conducted under Earth smart & science sport initiatives in Queensland. These efforts substantially affected the environment and helped to live in a healthy environment (Doyle, 2000).
Economic development of the Australia did not come for free and people paid huge price for economic development. Establishment of industries, and manufacturing plants certainly brought jobs in the country, but economic activities increased level of pollution significantly. The development impacted earth, air and water which are essential elements for the life. Over the past two to three decades level of pollution increased significantly which encouraged government to form different laws to control the level of pollution and save environment.
‘Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act’ requires business organizations to perform activities without harming the environment. The act covers sea, import, hazardous waste, heritage issues, and fuel quality. Federal and State laws are applicable on all business activities and companies are required to procure desired license & permits before starting business. Federal government formed ‘Environmental Protection Act’ in year 1997 to regulate business activities that can harm environment. Government also issued ‘Environment Protection Guidelines for business and industries’ that covers all information related with environment rules and regulations (Environmental legislation, 2014).
Besides these laws, State governments also have their own laws to protect the local environment. All efforts taken by the Australian Government not only increased people awareness on environmental issues, but also developed a sense of responsibility towards environment. Presently all major companies are adopting latest technology to minimize their carbon foot print and to save natural resources such as electricity, water and fuel (Environmental legislation, 2014).
Presently the nature and focus of environment activities has widened. Large number of researchers, scientists, scholars and activist are working on different dimensions to save the earth, species, and environment. Urban and rural areas are divided into green and brown categories. Each form required different types of actions and measures to protect environment. The Australian government is raising their concerns over environment issues due to increasing exposure of people towards several types of health risks.
Environmental movement of Australia has travelled a long journey. The history of Australian environment movement started in nineteenth century when this was not even an issue in various parts of the world. Various dedicated people participated in the environmental movement of Australia and they were truly nature lovers. The movement witnessed different phases, ups and downs to reach where it is today, but one thing remains unchanged and that is the dedication of people and nature lovers.
After observing the overview of environmental movement of Australia, it can be concluded that the movement has passed through different phases of time. Nature lovers have fought a long struggle to preserve the nature and unique biodiversity. Australian environmentalists created a movement that was unique and is remembered as the first environmental movement of the world. Environmentalists created awareness and participated actively in various movements that ensured attention of governments and participation of a larger number of people. Colossal efforts of nature lovers resulted in a huge environmental movement. The efforts of people improved the deteriorating condition of the nature and they succeeded in their mission.
Doyle, T. (2000). Green Power: The Environment Movement in Australia. Sydney: UNSW Press.
Environmental legislation. (2014). Retrieved November 9, 2014, from business.gov.au: http://www.business.gov.au/business-topics/business-planning/environmental-management/Pages/environmental-legislation.aspx
Hutton, D., and Connors, L. (1999). History of the Australian Environment Movement. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.