February 8th 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Old-growth forests and wildfires

COMMENT: Iraq's last chance to avert war

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Howard turns eyes to NSW poll

HIGH COURT: A further improvement in the High Court

STRAWS IN THE WIND: False Dawn / Iraq another Vietnam? / UN: ideal and reality

AGRICULTURE: Deregulation and low prices see sugar investment collapse

The fatal flaw in economic rationalism (letter)

Why men avoid fatherhood (letter)

Cattle grazing to cut bushfire risk (letter)

Firefighters deserve our thanks (letter)

Canberra's tragedy (letter)

Case against Saddam not established (letter)

Full story (letter)

Cane farmers' survey (letter)

PROFILE: Solzhenitsyn: the conscience of modern society

ASIA: China launches massive infrastructure expansion

VICTORIA: Taxpayers bankroll alternative lifestyles

ASIA: Taiwan's rural finance in trouble

BOOKS: ANSETT: the Collapse, by Geoff Easdown and Peter Wilms

BOOKS: Human Cloning and Human Dignity: The Report of the President's Council on Bioethics

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Canberra's tragedy (letter)

by Senator Ross Lightfoot

News Weekly, February 8, 2003

It was a very minor positive that came out of the appalling devastation of the nation's capital in recent days, to learn that even the ABC, sympathetic to environmentalists, nonetheless gave time to the other side of preservation.

Warning after warning was given to governments, both state and federal, that the build-up of detritus on the forest floor was a condition that could not be tolerated, particularly after a prolonged drought.

The most irksome of the debilitating green movement has been, however, the egocentric view that they, and only they, know what is good for Australia! Well, the fires of the night hell descended on Canberra and proved them wrong, desperately and tragically.

Farmers, emergency services, country fire brigades' chiefs, and federal and state foresters have known what is best for the bush, the environment and flora and fauna for generations. The alternative lifestylers and doctors-turned-conservationists are often, not always, single issue people.

It is an appropriate time to allow clear-felled green belts around major cities and settlements; to allow the land owner to protect his own patch from fires; to rescind legislation that prevents or inhibits farmers collecting rainwater on their own properties; to remove legislation that prevents landowners from removing regrowth and plantation timber without the approval of the environmentalists; to allow the damming of rivers where there is no destructive effect on the environment; to encourage the grazing on roads and other public easements where appropriate; and to give encouragement to intensive grazing and farming on land that is contiguous, adjacent or abutting cities or townships, in order to negate or minimise fuel build-up.

There may never be a greater opportunity for ordinary Australians to take back their self-evident right from a small minority of citizens, and the dogma and darkness they represent.

The great tragedies of Canberra, Victoria, the Alps and Blue Mountains are sadly a harbinger of what is to come if human life, and hard-won assets, are not held to be pre-eminent over all other considerations.

Senator Ross Lightfoot
Canberra, ACT

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