Who will be the winners and losers in the Queensland Election
Photo © Wildlfie Queensland
The March 2012 election may prove to be a tipping point for environmental protection and conservation in Queensland.
The current Premier Anna Bligh and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) have indicated that jobs, the environment and education would be the three main priorities for the campaign. Campbell Newman and the Liberal National Party (LNP) state that their intention is to build a four pillar economy addressing tourism, resources, health, cut waste, education, science and innovation, sustainable coal seam gas industry and agriculture. Where is the environment and conservation?
The Queensland Greens obviously are sympathetic to the environment and conservation as their website reveals. It is challenging to determine Katter’s Australian Party’s attitude. There is limited policy data available - some on coal seam gas but certain negative comments have been forthcoming particularly with reference to allowing fishing in green zones in marine parks, the proposed Coral Sea Marine Park and reintroducing duck shooting.
It is not for Wildlife Queensland to suggest how to vote. It is our role to inform, to the best of our ability, the different positions the major parties have indicated to date on aspects relevant to the aims of this organisation.
The conservation movement has framed priorities within six areas - this document has been forwarded to all political parties for comment.
It is Wildlife Queensland’s view that during the time ALP has been in government, more could have been done for the environment and some of their significant achievements could have been delivered sooner. However the ALP has been progressive and delivered critical environmental policies and legislation. Could they be improved Undoubtedly yes!
There is a commitment to enhanced management of stock routes. Targets for the national parks estate are too low, delivery time for national park and marine park expansions too slow. Certain achievements of note include:
- Broadscale tree clearing banned
- Wild Rivers protection
- Regulations to enhance runoff water quality, reducing sediment load and pollution to afford greater protection to the Great Barrier Reef
- Waste strategy with a $100M flowing into an environmental fund to support primarily national park acquisition, koala research and habitat acquisition
- Biodiversity Strategy for Queensland - a first for Queensland but could be improved
- Coastal Plan - a significant step forward but there is room for improvement
- Expansion of national parks, the protected area estate and marine parks -but higher targets required
- Significant progress in the protection of North Stradbroke Island
- Springbrook Rainforest, the Greenbank Karawatha Corridor and forests in the Wet Tropics
The ALP hears the opinions of stakeholders, considers proposals but obviously does not always agree. Advisory committees and working groups with key stakeholders have been established. Wildlife Queensland is represented on many of such groups.
On the other hand, is difficult to judge the other major political party, the LNP. It is not appropriate to consider the scant regard the conservative side of politics had for the environment when in Government over 20 years ago or during Borbidge’s short term. Currently there are few policies on their website and such policies are deficient in detail. There are statements that
- LNP will protect Cape York natural areas and waterways - yet Wild River legislation is to be withdrawn or at least severely amended.
- LNP states that expanding the national park estate is a worthwhile objective - but fails to commit to a target or time frame. In addition the primary source of funding for national park expansion is derived from the Waste Management Levy imposed on industry that the LNP is to abolish.
- LNP will open the national parks for tourism and greater access without detail on which to determine if such action is appropriate.
- There have been reports of fishing being allowed in protected green zones in marine parks but there is no such policy available for viewing.
- It is not possible to determine their policy on the Stock Routes Management Bill.
- LNP position on land clearing is unknown.
- Mining would continue on North Stradbroke Island.
- LNP is committed to protecting Queensland’s wildlife - but statements issued on flying foxes and crocodiles appear to be inconsistent with that commitment.
- LNP have stated that they will allow the use of lethal methods for flying fox control when non-lethal methods have failed.
Until very recently, Wildlife Queensland had difficulty in obtaining responses from the LNP. Inconsistencies appear to exist and transparency is not evident. Wildlife Queensland has therefore had difficulty in making a direct comparison between the two major political parties of how the environment will benefit.
As stated previously, Wildlife Queensland will not make recommendations on how to vote. You may receive more informed advice from your local candidates – but let us know how you go.
Only you can be the judge on how the respective political parties will manage environmental and conservation issues for the next three years. Under what regime will the environment be best managed? Will there be positive gains for the environment, will it be steady as it goes or will the worst possible result occur with a wind-back of recent achievements.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland's activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us an email.