Ahead of the Queensland election on 31 October 2020, the Environmental Defenders Office offers a list of proposals to tackle the state’s most pressing environmental problems, in particular climate change and biodiversity loss, while recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.
At the outset Queensland must commit to build back better with stimulus measures that prepare Queensland to thrive in a carbon-constrained economy and don’t rely on the removal of critical environmental protections (solution 1).
We must also put in place the structures to make, and commit to, the long-term plans that are urgently needed to allow our community to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, such as last summer’s unprecedented bushfire season (solution 2). Failing to plan creates the high risk that communities and workers, particularly in the regions, will be left behind in the necessary transition to a low carbon economy. This must be complimented by reforms to modernise our mining industry (solution 9).
Taking a more proactive approach to biodiversity protection and recovery will not only ensure that Queensland’s outstanding natural environment is safeguarded for future generations but provides businesses and landholders with greater certainty to plan for the future (solution 3).
We must also stay the course on protections for the Great Barrier Reef (solution 4), for preserving pristine rivers in the Channel Country and Gulf (solution 5), on providing a national parks network that complies with our international obligations and supports our tourism industry (solution 6) and on fixing our offset laws to ensure that environmental offsets genuinely compensate for impacts in a timely manner (solution 7). We need to make the needed overdue changes to our cultural heritage laws to provide better protections for the irreplaceable cultural heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (solution 10).
Queensland must also continue to take steps to enhance our democracywith measures to ensure that our publicly-owned natural resources are managed in the long term public interest (solution 8), with changes to planning laws that facilitate community involvement and confidence in planning schemes (solution 11), continuing donation reform to avoid the perception that money can buy influence in this state (solution 12), reform of our lobbying laws to ensure that influence isn’t being exercised in secret (solution 13) and funding for the community legal centres which do so much to ensure that access to justice isn’t just for the wealthy (solution 14).
Finally, any future Queensland government must commit not to re-making the mistakes of the past with a commitment to no regression on measures to protect our environment and enhance our democracy (solution 15). This includes the big achievement of legislating the protection of human rights in Queensland, which is something we can all be proud to have recognised.
Authorised by David Morris, CEO, Environmental Defenders Office Ltd, Level 5, 263 Clarence Street, Sydney NSW 2000