January 23, 2015

Vote for the Reef

Last night I attended the Great Barrier Reef State Election Forum, organised by the Australian Marine Conservation Society, at Brisbane City Hall. All political parties were invited. Unfortunately only two took their seats on the stage: the ALP's Environment spokesperson Jackie Trad, and Greens Queensland Senator Larissa Waters. The LNP didn't show up but sent some extraordinary video clips that allegedly summed up their Reef policy. And PUP spokesperson John Bjelke-Petersen sent a statement that was read out.

The LNP's video was received with sneers and jeers and lots of laughs. Their arrogance in not turning up for a debate on the most important environmental issue for many voters deserved such derision.

The Marine Conservation Society has six Reef commitments they are looking to the politicians to make, and that they suggest voters bring to the attention of candidates.
• Ban industrial dumping in order to minimise dredging
• Protect wetlands, the Reef's natural filters and nurseries
• Stop farming runoff pollution
• Protect rivers, bushland catchments, water resources and community rights
• Restore habitats, fish stocks and other marine animals
• Generation of more energy from renewables to check climate change

The Environmental Defenders Office – defunded completely by the Newman government and the Feds between them – are campaigning to have that funding restored. They, too, have an environmentally focused agenda of seven key changes they would like to see made. They link the Reef to the protection of other natural resources and add wider issues of citizens rights and the democratic process.

First look at their list of detrimental effects on the environment caused by certain pieces of legislation at http://www.edoqld.org.au/
assaults-on-qld/. More details of the seven key changes can be found at edoqld.nationbuilder.com. There's a petition to the pollies you can sign, as well.

Queensland Conservation is another organisation that lists all
the damage done to the environment in an 'election brochure' at http://qldconservation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/
qc_election_brochure-4.pdf. The Great Barrier Reef is at the top of their agenda, with climate change right behind it. Then comes uranium mining; public rights to appeal; protection of the Cape York Peninsula; the management of water resources; subsidies to fossil fuel industries and the monitoring of them; land clearance; and national parks.

I would add to all these lists, or perhaps attached to 'national parks', the problem of declared protected areas of high conservation value, such as nature refuges, being at risk of destruction from mining. Prime agricultural land also needs effective protection from mining encroachment, not merely glib talk about economic 'pillars'.

There are common themes between environmental organisations, but what leaps out is the broad range of subjects of concern gathered under the Environment umbrella. If you share those concerns, take them to as many candidates as you can in your constituency – on the corners; at election forums. Ask them where they stand and exactly what their policies are.

Saving the Reef has emerged as a big issue in this state election, but there are a whole host of other environmental matters that need their profiles raising. If you want to vote for the Reef, you're unlikely to choose the LNP I would have thought. If you don't believe Labor are promising enough, but neither do you think the Greens will be elected, then you have to choose your preferences carefully, and not vote for one only.

There are clear choices at this election between the main two parties on some of the key issues. That gives you a greater opportunity to achieve what you want, as long as you get the numbers right.

Update: I have just found this piece, which is the best summary of the problems for the Reef, with stats, and suggestions for the next government, whatever their colour. Read it and share.

This post was last edited on 24 January 2015


  1. Obama made his position clear on the Reef when he visited Qld. Although I normally ignore most of what the USA Administration says; this time they got it right. Although I think the LNP will prevail (due to the lack of care and the surplus of greed amongst there supporters) - I suspect they will take a big hit this time around which may make them reassess their values....maybe.

    1. I think the best we can hope for, Rory, is a much-reduced number of LNP candidates returned to Parliament and an effective alliance of Labor and the minor parties. I hope I'm wrong and it's better than that.
      While the LNP are funded by big business they will be beholden to big business. I can't see them improving their policies on the environment until there is a major disaster, either on the Reef or following an incident in a mine, such as that at the Hazelwood mine near Morwell in Victoria. Maybe they'll surprise me!!

  2. Jackie Trad is my local state member and she seems very approachable and willing to fight for community concerns.

    I can foresee Rory's predictions playing out, which utterly disappoints me. I can't believe things have to get even worse before people wake up.

    1. I am a big fan of Jackie Trad, Christian. She is articulate and has a good grasp of the detail of many environmental issues. I have seen her in action in Parliamentary committee, where she was excellent, and at the Reef forum the other night she was passionate about reducing emissions, which you don't see often among pollies yet. I hope she gets returned with a massively increased majority and has a senior role in Labor in future. Future leader material, I believe.

    2. I agree, Jude! I'm also lucky to be represented federally by Terri Butler, so there's no shortage of talented women in South Brisbane. I'm always impressed that the area is a rather solid ALP seat also - it seems like a wealthy area (my house excepted!) and the same demographic in Sydney would be a blue seat for sure.

    3. You're absolutely right. I'm in Griffith, too, and I think Terri Butler is a bright spark. Hopefully I will be able to vote in the next election! It's very frustrating not being able to take part in this one.
      These up-and-coming Labor ladies make some of the staid old LNP candidates appear so dull.
      And yes, it had struck me too, about the obvious wealth in a lot of areas and yet its left-wing tendency. Has it always been Labor-leaning?