Reclaiming Green Tape

Green Tape (derogatory) — Time-consuming bureaucratic procedures or regulations relating to environmental concerns. (Source: Wiktionary)Published 02/03/14

A YEAR AGO, the then Federal Opposition coined a new term, marrying green (“environmentally friendly”) and red tape (“bureaucratic regulations”). The newly elected government and state governments have since enthusiastically applied the slogan of cutting ‘green tape’ to justify their efforts to ‘streamline’ environmental protection processes and promote economic development. It made for nice sound bites.1 

Last October, Simon Copland, in an article in the Guardian1 argued that “streamlining” environmental processes fails to allow us to ask or answer questions such as “Is this proposal worth any costs that come with it?” Are the impacts … simply too much to bear or do we think we can handle it?” 

By December last year, the States and Territories (including Labor ones) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Government 2allowing states to carry out the environmental assessments for major projects and would set the scene for states to also carry out the approvals.2 We have already seen the Victorian Government gut environmental legislation in this state and more is promised by both State and Federal governments. 

It is important to show that the community does not support the removal of protections and processes that have saved heritage, especially in the lead up to the Victorian state election. Environment Victoria and others have some excellent campaigns that we support including the ‘Places You love’ campaign. 

I invite you to add our own, Victorian-specific version. Send us your images of local flora, fauna and places that have been protected or should be protected by legislation. Include a piece of green tape or ribbon in the original photo (or we can add it onto the photo later). 

We would like to use these images in installations, on line and submissions to ministers and shadow ministers of all governments to illustrate why you support stronger, not weakened legislation. See our website for further details. 

Copland writes “Environmental regulations, or green tape… are about protecting our community and our environment for decades to come and we should value them as such.” 

Let us adopt ‘green tape’ as a symbol of pride. Pride that as a society we can choose to value our irreplaceable natural heritage above short-term benefits for a few. 

Brian Bainbridge