4 June 2019
As Wildlife Queensland reported on 7 May 2019 (see: news story), recent reports show Australia’s biodiversity is at breaking point. Time is ticking for the newly re-elected Coalition Government to deliver on its environmental election promises.
But will the new Morrison Government provide the attention required to arrest the decline in biodiversity let alone reverse the trend?
Wildlife Queensland has some concerns.
Based on relatively recent decisions by the former Morrison Government, such as the approval of the groundwater management plan for the Carmichael coal mine and the approval of commercial development (admittedly subject to certain conditions) in Main Range National Park, there is every reason for concerns to exist.
However, anti-environment sentiments have not always been displayed by Coalition Governments:
- The Fraser Government afforded protection to the Great Barrier Reef
- Under Senator Robert Hill in a Howard Government the Environment Biodiversity and Conservation Protection Act 1999 was introduced as well as an expansion of the National Reserve System.
The appointment of the Hon Sussan Ley MP as the Coalition’s new Minister for the Environment on 29 May 2019 presents an opportunity for the new Morrison Government to follow suit.
Minister Ley is new to the environment but is a seasoned performer having served in various ministerial portfolios under former Coalition Governments since 2001. Minister Ley even resided in Queensland near Toowoomba in her younger days and, as a licensed pilot, participated in the aerial mustering of stock in south-west Queensland.
Coalition statement of environmental commitments
On a positive note, the Coalition responded to Wildlife Queensland’s request for environmental-related commitments prior to the federal election. An edited version is provided below. The full response can be viewed here.
RESPONSE TO WILDLIFE PRESERVATION SOCIETY OF QUEENSLAND
Australia’s iconic environment is part of our national identity and we are committed to protecting and conserving it for future generations.
The Morrison Government believe that protecting and restoring the environment is best achieved by working in partnership with the community, Landcare groups, small and large businesses, Indigenous communities, farmers and scientists.
The Coalition has been working hard to protect our threatened plants and animals.
- Appointed Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner in 2014 and launched the Threatened Species Strategy in 2015.
- Since 2014 spent over $425 million mobilising projects to protect and recover populations of threatened species.
- The Morrison Government’s 2030 target to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels is responsible and achievable.
- The Climate Solutions Package is a comprehensive $3.5 billion package, over the next decade to meet 2030 reduction targets and includes helping households and businesses to lower energy bills and investing in new reliable power generation.
- Environment Restoration Fund. The Morrison Government has committed $100 million in the 2019-20 Budget to a new Environment Restoration Fund to support major environmental projects that deliver lasting conservation benefits. Funding will be provided for a broad range of environmental restoration and protection projects, built around three key priorities:
- Cleaning up and protecting Australia’s coasts, oceans and waterways.
- Protecting threatened and migratory species and their habitats.
- Increasing recycling and reducing waste.
- Invest $30 million in a pilot Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Fund to pay farmers for projects which boost biodiversity and carbon.
- The Morrison Government has committed $25 million in the 2019-20 Budget towards the establishment of new world-leading environment research and education facilities.
- Conserving Antarctica. The Morrison Government is committed to ensuring Australia remains a leader in Antarctica. We are strengthening Tasmania as the premier gateway and scientific research hub for East Antarctica. We are investing $450 million over the next 10 years to upgrade Australia’s Antarctic research station network and infrastructure.
Only time will tell the fate of the environment and its wildlife under the newly elected Morrison Government. Wildlife Queensland is hopeful that our voices are being heard.