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Presentation to Council by Kathryn Maxwell Feb 11th 2020

Eurobodalla's Shock Doctrine

Around the world there are people with power who are cashing in on chaos, and exploiting catastrophe to brutally remake our world for their own gain. In her book “The shock doctrine” famous author Naomi Klein calls this “disaster capitalism” - orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events.

Exponents of the shock doctrine realise that a great rupture, like a bushfire disaster, can generate the kinds of vast, clean canvases they need. It is in these critical moments, when the community are psychologically unmoored and physically uprooted, that they plunge in and begin their work of remaking the world.

For example, after Hurricane Katrina, the disaster exploiters took advantage of the crisis to auction off the New Orleans public school system with military speed and precision. They used a pretext of raising money to speed recovery from the disaster. Before Hurricane Katrina the school board ran 123 public schools, now it runs just 4. Public school teachers watched helplessly as money allocated to hurricane victims was diverted to erase a public system and replace it with a private one that would take money from the public and into the hands of disaster capitalists.

The success of the shock doctrine depends on swift action to impose rapid and irreversible damage before the crisis-ravaged community slips back into normality.

Self serving disaster exploiters are already at work in our shire. Even whilst the shire was burning, the Eurobodalla community traumatised from weeks and weeks of fluctuating bushfire threat , our environment with its wonderful native flora and fauna, devastated. What does our Eurobodalla Council (the elected members lead by the mayor) do during these profoundly disturbing times?- They want to bulldoze what's left. They are going to ask the NSW Government to switch off the Biodiversity Conservation Act so as to facilitate extensive land clearing of protected sites that were impacted by the fires but approved for development in the Rural Lands Strategy/LEP.

On page 20 of the 11 February 2020 Council papers it states the following under the heading of Planning and Development:

“Council has been advocating to the NSW Government for changes to the planning system to facilitate the recovery process and to make it easier for our community to re-build. Decisions have previously been made to allow development in areas impacted by the fires. The focus needs to be on facilitating redevelopment and where appropriate improving health and safety through actions such as complying with current bush fire management standards.

To this end Council has advocated that the Biodiversity Conservation Act should be switched off for development replacing fire impacted development and where it is proposed to introduce an asset protection zone up to a level agreed in consultation with Rural Fire Service eg clearing up to a BAL29 is exempt.

Our Council is not wasting any time trying to take advantage of a crisis to further their non-sustainable, dangerous development agenda.

The community has been told by our Mayor that now is not the time to talk about climate change, and the associated longer droughts, higher temperatures, and more extreme weather events. But obviously now is the perfect time to seek further destruction of the natural environment to meet Council's unsustainable development objectives and in so doing put more lives at risk in the future.

It seems nothing will stop the Council from approving 300 plus new dwellings in high-risk bushfire prone areas which were razed by the recent fires. They think that if enough of the vegetation is removed to meet the minimum fire standard, prospective home owners will come and build their dream homes. Unfortunately, the current fire season has shown that no amount of clearing in fire prone areas will be enough, in the Eurobodalla alone 500+ homes were burned to the ground. The plans of our council will only add to this total in the future. It seems as if the councillors/large landowners will make a substantial profit while these people will be left to deal with the massive risks that have been passed onto them through the purchase of these bushfire-prone lands. It is profit before people. Disaster exploitation is alive and well in the Eurobodalla.

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