October 13, 2007 Past Issues No Comments

A federal election has been called for 24 November 2007. How can conservation-minded voters decide how to vote?

Do you know what questions to ask?

Can environmental issues decide the outcome of the 2007 federal election

Can environmental issues decide the outcome of the 2007 federal election

During an election campaign, political parties make claims and counter claims. It’s a confusing time, but also one of the few opportunities that voters have to demand answers and commitments on important issues.

Decide your vote.

If you want to base your vote on which party has the best environmental policies, use this summary to help you find out what you need to know.

Ask these four questions when analysing any environmental party political material:

  1. What are the benefits and costs of the environmental policies of this party?
  2. Is there a gain for one aspect of the environment at the expense of another?
  3. How do these policies fit with my personal views on this issue?
  4. Are these polices going to be implemented in a timely way?

Wildlife Queensland believes there are at least six major environmental issues that are relevant in this federal election. Each of these issues covers an area for which the federal government has responsibility.

Make up your own mind.

To help you, we’ve listed 6 major environmental issues; statements about the status of each; and a question related to each statement.

Ask party representatives for their responses to the questions on each of these issues.

Read the party political material to find out the answers to these questions.

Climate change

The federal government has signed (but not ratified) the International Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.

Q: When will it be ratified?

Most political parties have set a target of 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Q: Have realistic targets prior to 2050 been set so that progress and performance can be limited?

All parties are likely to encourage domestic and industrial energy saving.

Q: What incentives or legislation will be introduced to promote energy savings in households and businesses?

Australia is likely to get hotter and drier with climate change, at a speed too fast for species to genetically adapt.

Q: What strategies will be implemented to prevent significant species loss?

Clean coal technology is still unproven. Renewable energy sources are a more reliable resource.

Q: What is the party’s attitude to research into renewable energy sources?

Biodiversity protection

Australia’s biodiversity is declining.

Q: What strategies will be implemented to arrest this decline or, even better, turn it around?

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act is an important piece of legislation.

Q: How would the Act be strengthened to regulate invasive species more tightly?

The power to classify activities as of ‘national environmental significance’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act has been used too inconsistently and with apparent bias.

Q: How would transparency and consistency be introduced to the application of this Act?

Biodiversity conservation cannot rely on the Protected Area Estate alone.

Q: How will private landholders be encouraged to participate in biodiversity protection?

National Reserve System

Australia is a signatory to the 1992 International Convention on Biological Diversity but the current federal government has failed to meet its commitments under this convention to acquire identified priority areas for the National Reserve System.

Q: What commitments are there to meeting these targets?

It has been suggested that the federal and state governments should jointly contribute $360M to halt the decline in funding for the NRS.

Q: What support is there for increasing funding to the NRS?

The NRS requires a high level of cooperation with the states and territories.

Q: How will cooperation be improved?

The formal role of traditional owners is not consistent within the NRS.

Q: What role would be provided for traditional owners?

World Heritage Areas (WHAs)

The federal government has international obligations to protect and conserve the values of World Heritage listed areas – yet in Queensland, only one the Great Barrier Reef has a cost sharing arrangement for day-to-day management.

Q: How would management costs and plans for all WHAs be improved to meet approved international standards?

Old growth forests

Old growth forests deserve to be protected because they provide important ecological services to ensure the ongoing health and stability of the environment.

Q: How much disturbance should be allowed in old growth forests?

Australia has a considerable timber industry that relies on a variety of timber resources. There have been calls for an end to the felling and harvest of native forests for timber.

Q: What would be your policy on all of the Australian timber industry’s needs being supplied only from accredited sustainable sources?

Marine parks

Australia deserves a world-class system of marine parks. Apart from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP), most of Australia’s marine park reserves are found around the coasts of Victoria and Tasmania. Elsewhere along the coastline they are scattered and inadequate.

Q: What plans are there to expand the marine park estate?

Australia’s marine parks are recognised as multi-purpose reserves, unlike terrestrial National Parks where conservation is the primary focus. The GBRMPA has established a benchmark of 30% ‘green zone’ within the Park.

Q: What minimum percentage of a marine park should be green zone?

Funding for Marine Parks is not adequate to maintain best practice management.

Q: What strategies would ensure management of Marine Parks is adequately funded?

For more information on Wildlife Queensland’s activities, contact us by email or call +61 7 3221 0194.

Wildlife Queensland, October 2007

Written by Wildlifeqld