The devastating bushfires across Australia in the summer of 2019/20 provide us with a clear message. Australians – people, businesses, and those who govern us – can no longer take our environment for granted. We have been willfully ignoring the signs so far but that must now stop.
There is much work to do in recovery. Rebuilding, refinancing, infrastructure maintenance, counselling – and the immediate and grisly task of dealing with the incomprehensible loss of animal life both native fauna and livestock. The Prime Minister today announced the allocation of $2 billion towards these efforts, to be managed by a bushfire recovery agency. As for revisiting climate policy though? No.
This is an egregious error, I think, based on the accuracy of climate modelling over the last 50 years. 2020 was even predicted as the time our climate chickens came home to roost. But climate policies are only one tranche in a complex system of policy levers that affect how we experience this new climatic world. In this post, I explore our relationship with land.
The current imbroglio over the Commonwealth’s buy back of water from a company formerly associated with a government minister has dominated the news now for some days. Amongst the commentary I have been left wondering about some assertions concerning the water entitlements at the heart of the deal.
Water regulation is an extremely complicated field at the intersection of science, conservation, policy, the market, and politics – and I don’t pretend to be an expert. However, in this very lawyerly post, I try to work out the general operation of the regulatory framework that underpins the drama, to try to isolate the legal questions.
I graduated in one of the first cohorts in law at the University of Queensland to comprise 50% women. Despite experiencing overt sexism in some of my job interviews and tacit sexism during my working life, it still did not occur to me for a long time that I would be treated any differently from my male counterparts. I thought sexism to be exceptional. As a young woman, I believed all in the profession would be treated on merit.
The intervening 26 years in the workforce has shown that the idea of merit excludes many people of merit. Hard work and talent are not enough – if it were, the upper ranks of the legal profession in particular, would look a lot more diverse.
We know this – study after study has confirmed it. We even know why there is a lack of diversity – that the culture of the legal profession operates in a deeply exclusionary way. What we don’t seem to know is how to dismantle this culture. This post forms the basis of some ideas I will be sharing at the 2016 conference of the Australian Women Lawyers (‘AWL’). In it, I offer some ideas on cultural change in the legal profession, focusing on changing entrenched gender bias.
A couple of weeks ago I self-published a free interactive i-book, Land Law & Sustainability. The book is available through itunes – though it can only be viewed by those with Apple devices, I’m sad to say.
I received a small grant from James Cook University’s Division of Learning Teaching & Student Engagement for the project. I had already been looking into the possibility of publishing an e-book. I was looking for something to support student learning in law that was inexpensive (possibly free), accessible, able to be digitally manipulated by the user, and aligned with my own teaching interests. I therefore couldn’t resist playing with the technology to do this project.