In the lead-up to the State general election, Wildlife Queensland provides a roundup of election policies that may impact our environment and its wildlife over the coming four years.
Queensland’s State general election is on Saturday, 31 October 2020, and early voting will start on 19 October 2020. This year’s state election will mark the first time Queenslanders have been asked to determine who should govern since the state introduced set four-year terms.
To date, Wildlife Queensland has reached out to three of the political parties, in alphabetical order, the Greens, Labor and Liberal National Party (LNP) for statements on their key election policies and commitments for the environment.
- The two major parties were guarded in making meaningful commitments and divulging policy direction for the future ̶ perhaps waiting to make the big announcements at their campaign launch.
- The Greens had a relaxed approach and were willing to share.
The Greens provided the following comment:
The Greens’ policies speak for themselves and their actions leave no doubt about their care for the environment and its wildlife. The Greens and Wildlife Queensland share the same attitude to fire management: back burns and prescribed burns certainly have a place provided they are underpinned by science, comply with advice from emergency services and do not pose threats to people or infrastructure: https://greens.org.au/bushfires.
The Greens support the war against plastic waste. Both in Queensland Parliament and in the Senate, the Greens have consistently demonstrated a rational and pragmatic approach when it comes to enhancing and strengthening environmental legislation. Their policy on Biodiversity and the Environment is here, and the plan for Queensland that they are taking to this state election is here, including a roadmap to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
Queensland’s National Parks and Protected Area Estate:
Labor highlighted the expansion to the Protected Area Estate since their election in 2015 ̶ more than 1.2 million ha representing about 8.7 per cent of Queensland and pointed out that:
- Queensland’s private protected area network is the largest in Australia including the recently declared Pullen Pullen Special Wildlife Reserve, the first holding to be listed under this Class of Protected Area.
- Labor is committed to release and implement a Queensland Protected Area Strategy that will establish the future strategic direction for the State’s terrestrial protected areas and include key actions for sustainably growing and effectively managing these areas. Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts announced the release of the Queensland Protected Area Strategy on 3 October 2020. This 10-year plan includes an initial investment of $60 million over four years with $28 million to be used to strategically acquire properties across Queensland for dedication as protected area estate.
- This is in addition to $45 million being invested to revitalise infrastructure on national parks, as well as an additional $8.9 million National Parks Works and Jobs Boost announced as part of Labor’s plan for economic recovery.
- The Protected Area Strategy also confirms Labor’s support for the Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers Program and commitment to increasing that number to 200 over the next four years.
Labor also highlighted:
- Their commitment to the ongoing protection of, and action to enhance, the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
- The release of the Koala Strategy for South East Queensland, and urban flying fox roost management framework.
- Their efforts in the war against waste with a commitment to continue the battle.
Liberal National Party (LNP)
Mr David Crisafulli, current Shadow Minister for Environment, Science and the Great Barrier Reef and LNP Member for Broadwater spoke recently at a meeting of conservation organisations convened by the Queensland Conservation Council. Mr Crisafulli highlighted achievements of the Coalition over the last century, adding that currently there is strong support from the LNP for the war against waste and disappointment at the rate of progress in growing the Protected Area Estate.
Wildlife Queensland must also state the LNP played a key role in the banning of the single-use plastic bag in Queensland.
Mr Crisafulli provided the following comment:
For the waste levy to have any environmental benefit, clearly more funds have to go to environmental initiatives and not to line the State Government’s pockets. Barely any of the money raised from the levy has gone towards environmental programs for Queenslanders. The rest is going to government, including into Treasury coffers.
With no protected area strategy and no budget, it’s clear that Labor has no plan for Queensland conservation or jobs. The Palaszczuk Labor Government promised it would implement a Queensland Protected Area Strategy, but one hasn’t been developed yet.
The LNP is committed to continuing our legacy of strong environmental protection, which includes establishing over a million hectares of nature refuges, founding the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and creating over 100 national parks.
Wildlife Queensland’s comments
Note: Wildlife Queensland is apolitical and endeavours to work with the Government of the day to achieve enhanced management of our environment, our natural land and seascapes as well as our wildlife (plants and animals). Rarely if ever do our policies and aspirations completely align with those of the government of the day. However, usually, some common ground can be found and by collaborating and working together some benefits will flow to the environment and its wildlife.
Apart from the progress made in the war against waste, Wildlife Queensland has been disappointed with the treatment of the environment and its wildlife following the 2017 election.
- Several pre-election commitments have not been delivered or only delivered in part.
- The percentage of funds of the State Budget directed to the environment continues to decline. The same observation can be made about the Commonwealth’s budget.
- The construction of private resort facilities within national parks and encouragement of active recreational pursuits such as mountain bike riding fly in the face of over a hundred years of national park management. Enjoyment of national parks is to be encouraged but not at the expense of our wildlife. National parks in Queensland are presently experiencing an unprecedented attack by private developers and politicians.
Of the two major political parties, Labor has demonstrated more care for the environment in recent years. Amendments by the Newman Government certainly weakened environment legislation. However, the attitude displayed by the Newman Government is not necessarily a reflection of all conservative governments in the past.
We encourage you to ask your local candidates about their plans to enhance the environment and protect and conserve our wildlife.
Election and voting information
The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) has significantly revised its essential services for the 2020 State Election in view of the COVID-19 global pandemic and in line with the health and safety measures introduced for the local government elections held on 28 March 2020.
The ECQ will deliver a ‘mixed model’ election which features expanded in-person and postal voting options, with telephone voting for eligible electors only. All measures will be implemented based on advice from Queensland’s Chief Health Officer.
For more information, refer to the ECQ’s Statement of Intent.
Authorised by Des Boyland, Secretary, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, 30 Gladstone Road, Highgate Hill. Queensland 4101.