The Australian Greens seek to cultivate a global, ecological consciousness based on a long-term perspective in order to safeguard the interests of both existing and future generations and species. Human society depends on, and our economy is constrained by, ecological resources and we must avoid actions which risk long-term or irreversible damage to the environment. Fundamental to ecological sustainability is the maintenance of biodiversity – the natural complexity which provides balance in the interplay of all living things. The Australian Greens recognise the interdependence between humanity and the rest of nature as we seek to move to an ecologically sustainable path.
Biological diversity (Biodiversity)
The Australian Greens believe that:
- Biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem processes maintain Earth’s life support systems, including the climate system.
- The protection and conservation of biodiversity is essential for the wellbeing of all life on Earth, including human life.
- The loss of Australia’s biodiversity poses an unacceptable threat to human and ecosystem health, and dramatically reduces our ability to cope with major ecological threats such as climate change.
- Protected areas are vital to the preservation of Australia’s biodiversity, and therefore to the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
- Habitat loss and fragmentation, together with the spread of invasive species, exacerbated by climate change, are major threats to the biodiversity of the planet.
- Australian ecosystems are vital for the survival of internationally significant species of migratory animals and the loss of biodiversity in Australia has ramifications beyond our borders.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have an important role to play in the protection of Australian biodiversity.
2016 Election initiatives
Strong laws and an independent watchdog
Our plan to protect reefs, forests, rivers, wildlife and communities
The Greens have a $2.6 billion plan over 6 years ($1.6 billion over 4 years) to protect nature and fix the rigged system that gives big miners and developers too much power. We will:
- Establish an independent watchdog, the National Environment Protection Authority (NEPA), to enforce the rules
- Create a new Environment Act as the next generation of strong national environment laws
- Give Australians the environmental democracy they deserve by improving communityrights and access to justice
- Re-establish the Biodiversity Fund and double the previous funding – with a $2 billioninvestment
- Protect our unique native wildlife by mapping and protecting critical habitat
- Ensure the quality and independence of information provided by environmental consultants
- Better protect and manage our World Heritage Areas and Ramsar wetlands with $63million in funding
- Phase out native forest logging
- Stop runaway tree-clearing and ensure climate pollution impacts of projects are considered
- Get the Murray-Darling flowing
The road to recovery for threatened species
Precious and protected
The Greens have a $2.13 billion plan over 6 years ($1.13 billion over 4 years) to fix our biodiversity crisis and provide real funding for nature. We will:
- Protect our unique native wildlife by investing $130 million over 4 years in a Threatened Species Plan to map and protect critical habitat and to fund existing, unfunded recovery plans.
- Re-establish the Biodiversity Fund and double the previous funding with $2 billion over 6 years to expand our protected areas, stop the loss of native wildlife, and better manage our established national parks, forests and reserves.
Detailed information on each of these initiatives is available on the Australian Greens website: greens.org.au.
Protecting our marine ecosystems
The Greens will protect Australia’s marine habitats by reinstating management plans for our marine reserves at a cost of $66 million, and provide $69.5m in compensation for displaced fisheries. The Greens will also:
- Provide $8m in additional funding for coral bleaching research, to improve our understanding of this critical threat.
- Boost shark research by $6m, to give us a better understanding of key species.
- Protect sharks from finning at a cost of $2.5m, to remove a key threat to sharks.
- Apply mandatory country of origin seafood labelling so that Australians can trust where
their food is coming from, and
- Ban super trawlers, to prevent further damage to key ecosystems.
Action on global warming, fixing water quality
The Greens have a $2.18 billion plan over 5 years to save the Reef. We will:
- Act rapidly on global warming, with 90% clean energy by 2030, a ban on new coal mines and fracking projects, a thermal coal export levy, abolition of fossil fuel subsidies and a just transition for workers.
- Slash water pollution with a $2 billion fund over 5 years, significantly increasing existing funding with $500 million in new grant funding and a $1.2 billion Reef Repair Loan Facility, a legal cap on water quality pollution, protection against runaway tree clearing, and better monitoring.
- Stop damaging port expansion and ban all offshore dumping and capital dredging for fossil fuel port expansion by closing the loopholes in the federal and State government’s existing rules. The Greens will stop the Adani mega-mine and the coal port at Abbot Point
- Strengthen the Reef’s champions, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) with $90 million in extra funding, independence and stronger powers.
- Protect pristine areas like the Fitzroy Delta and Cape York Peninsula
- Address illegal fishing with better compliance, modern technology and education campaigns.
- Environment laws to protect the Reef
- Make shipping safe for people and the Reef with strong protection for our marine environment and our seafarers.
A Sustainable Water Institute for Australia
Our plan will
- Commit to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan – Boost environmental flows
- Support communities – Engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
- Provide independent oversight of water management
- Establish a Sustainable Water Institute – Provide independent oversight of water management
- Invest in world-leading research
Below are some links to independent publications which cover various environmental issues. They represent only a small number of interesting reports and comments available on a wide range of issues. The Greens do not necessarily endorse the content of these publications but we provide them as interesting background.
An article published in The Conversation suggests that a European derived farming system, relying on cattle and ship for our dietary needs, is a recipe for land degradation and environmental collapse. Swapping to a diet based on kangaroos, feral animals and even insects would reduce stress on our fragile rangelands and may offer alternatives in a changing environment.
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is an independent community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law. It expresses concern that the NSW Government’s proposed biodiversity legislative and policy package removes many of NSW’s long-held environmental protections, and represents a serious backward step for environmental law and policy in New South Wales.
This article in The Conversation also discusses the NSW Government’s proposed biodiversity legislation. It expresses concern that the proposed reforms may lead to large increases in land clearance, increased carbon emissions and more threats to endangered species. One concern is that the new approach will ‘broaden and deepen’ the use of biodiversity markets and it will apply offsetting at the regional and State level rather than the local level, which means that local biodiversity will be lost.
The financial and economic losses of native forestry in NSW March 2016
A discussion paper from the Australia Institute suggests that native forest logging by the Forestry Commission of NSW generated losses of $79 million over the last seven years – discontinuing the practice could deliver significant benefits to the state of NSW. It goes on to suggest that given that native forest logging currently struggles to generate a profit, that demand is declining, and that supplying biomass power plants will not provide the uplift required, potentially the highest economic use of native forestry would be to leave the trees standing.
The National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) has published a report analysing whether regional forest agreements (RFAs) have achieved their aims. RFAs were designed in the mid-nineties to provide for multiple uses of native forests including nature conservation, timber extraction and recreation. They are twenty year agreements and due to expire between 1997 and 2001. Should they be renewed? The NPA expresses concern that RFAs failed to substantially meet their goals and that the RFA model has failed to deliver effective management of public native forests.
The Murray-Darling Basin is the lifeblood of the nation. It is not only an ecological wonder, it also sustains and supports millions of Australians. After a long process the Federal Government introduced the Basin Plan, a complex plan to address the over extraction and overuse of water resources in the Murray Darling Basin.
In this report the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) notes that the successful implementation of the Basin Plan is critically important to Australia. It essential to redressing the damage done to rivers, wetlands and floodplains through decades of unsustainable water extraction. The report explores the ongoing challenges and opportunities in restoring the Murray-Darling Basin to health. It expresses concern that the Federal Government is removing and eroding many of the institutions and responsibilities that drive water reform in Australia. This will have lasting negative impacts on the effective management of our water resources, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Explainer: what is biodiversity and why does it matter? 12 October 2012
This article in The Conversation explains why we should care about biodiversity, why we can’t get by without it and what we need for good policy.
Authorised by Janet Ellis for The Greens NSW, 1/275 Broadway, Glebe, NSW 2037.
Posted June 2016