With the election date almost upon us all political parties have been relatively quiet about the environment and its wildlife. Wildlife Queensland has contacted the major political parties for comment and has been assured by Labor and the LNP that they are forthcoming, but we assume these parties are awaiting their official launch prior to delivering commitments. It appears that similar to 2015, the environment is not a key component of their election platforms, though the following commitments have been indicated in recent times.
If returned with a majority, Labor has committed to enhancing vegetation management legislation. The party’s ongoing commitment to improving the health of the Great Barrier Reef will continue particularly with UNESCO looking over its shoulder. And no doubt legislation such as that underpinning the Special Wildlife Reserves – a new class of Protected Area Estate for privately owned land committed for conservation – will be progressed. Similarly the transition of North Stradbroke Island from a sand mining economy to that of a long-term ecologically sustainable future will continue.
Naturally the ban on the use of single-use plastic bags and the introduction of a container refund scheme from July 2018, already enshrined in legislation with bipartisan support, would eventuate and the focus on the koala and other threatened species would remain on Labor’s agenda. On the energy front Labor has a plan to transition from fossil fuels to renewables – a positive step for the environment. Wildlife Queensland has always enjoyed ongoing liaison with Labor who has listened to, and on occasions acted upon, our aspirations and desires. We have no reason to believe this would change.
The LNP under Tim Nicholls while in opposition, unlike the Newman Government, was willing to meet with Wildlife Queensland to discuss issues. In fact through Tim Nicholls and the Opposition Shadow Minister for the Environment Dr Christian Rowan, the LNP played a pivotal role in ensuring that the ban on plastic bags and the introduction of the container refund scheme became a reality. On occasion the LNP has requested that briefings on Wildlife Queensland policies on threatened species and wildlife-human interactions be made available to them.
If elected, the LNP has already made commitments concerning the koala. The party has indicated that although there are obviously some areas in which our views will not align (such as vegetation management) this should not inhibit our working on common ground for the betterment of the environment and its wildlife. However, on the energy front there is at least one coal fired power station in North Queensland on the agenda.
As for One Nation, no response to our correspondence has been received. However, it has been announced that the party is keen to introduce hunting on public lands. Reading between the lines it appears the policy reflects a practice involving members of the Sporting Shooters Association hunting feral animals. This practice is already in use in several states including Queensland. Wildlife Queensland does not support such practice due to the potential animal welfare issues and the possible loss of native fauna involved.
Wildlife Queensland is apolitical. Should further information become available we will endeavour to inform you all. In the absence of more detailed information on commitments to environmental matters you may wish to approach the various candidates in your electorate to determine their views on particular issues.
Authorised by Des Boyland, Secretary, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, 30 Gladstone Road, Highgate Hill QLD 4101.