We’ve lost sight of our responsibilty

INTERGENERATIONAL responsibility means more than those with wealth creating family trusts for their pampered offspring.

As a concept it is as old as this nation's true first settlers and well understood by indigenous peoples globally.

Custodianship, the earth as mother and respect for natural systems may have found new voices among hippies and environmentalists, but they were rediscovered responsibilities now in danger of again being dismissed.

It would seem a matter of absolute common sense that we can't continue to have access to what we destroy.

When we compromise farmland to accommodate houses it is worth remembering that food doesn't come from supermarkets.

When we unlock the gate to satisfy the short-term objectives of miners it is worth considering that oversight of their activities should be greater than acceptance of their claims of good practice.

The aquifers they tap will be needed long after the last bit of that profit has been wrung from the earth.

"Open for business" is the strident cry as if before now we have just sat in yogic pose contemplating earth's wonders. Full and thorough assessment of the impact of that business is being stripped from legislation. At the same time government departments are being depopulated of the scientists and technical experts capable of providing it.

Care of our planet, its fin-ite resources and the biodiversity that allows renewal are not whims of irresponsible greenies. Those concepts should be as fundamental to us as not hitting girls and not lying, cheating or stealing.

Intemperate language and a desire to win at all cost have demonised as job destroyers those who have kept sight of our responsibility to future generations.

Ripping coal from the ground as quickly as possible and sinking gas wells across the country no matter what and who are affected, are now the stuff of self-congratulatory press releases.

Dumping a tax that may have helped drive innovative solutions to our energy needs is a badge of honour.

Science and knowledge not plugged into the commercial imperatives of business are being devalued.

Feeding our xenophobia by turning back the boats and punishing those who have escaped instability we helped create is a policy now more important than neighbourly relationships.

The tragedy is that Australia could have been a model for a better world, a centre of excellence for environmental stewardship, a standard bearer for the values of a quality education and the rewards of innovation.

We live in a democracy forged by the deaths of those we remembered this week. This is how we have used their legacy.

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