The LNP State government’s environmental performance in their first term has been appalling according to the Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC), the environment sector’s peak body for the region which represents 50 community organisations and has thousands of individual supporters.
SCEC’s concerns echo environmental groups across the State that policies to protect the outstanding natural environment that Queenslanders rely on for both lifestyle and tourism revenues have been drastically wound back. These policies have been developed over decades and backed by sound reasoning and science.
“At a State level, the wind back process commenced immediately after the LNP was elected, despite verbal promises, indeed a written and signed promise by Premier Newman in the case of the Vegetation Management Act, that wind-backs would not occur.” said SCEC President Keryn Jones.
“Also, initiatives to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, support for energy efficiency and both small and large scale renewable energy were slashed while the already obvious support for the coal industry became even more apparent. The long standing policy of no uranium mining in Queensland was reversed and unqualified support with the use of billions in taxpayer funds for enormous developments that threaten the Great Barrier Reef, productive farmland and groundwater was championed.” Mrs Jones said.
“It appears that if you are a foreign owned coal corporation, the funding cuts that the environmental and social services of Queensland have received don’t apply.” she emphasised.
There are also major concerns about the State Government’s performance right here on the Sunshine Coast.
“On a local level we have seen a lack of consideration for sound planning and a determination to over-ride planning jurisdictions driven by an “any development is good development” ideology,” the SCEC President said.
The State has intervened in a number of local planning issues;
- Directed Council to include Halls Creek as an identified growth area in its Town Plan despite the Council and community agreeing for decades that Halls Creek is unsuitable for development.
- The Premier has made public statements that the new Town Plan’s 4 storey height limits in beachside locations are “ridiculous”and openly stating support for high rise development at the Yaroomba beachside.
- Stepped in to re-zone Maroochy River Caravan Park against Council’s advice.
- Posited a motorsports park in the high value forest area on the Steve Irwin Way.
- Posited commercial development in the Kondallila National Park.
The State Government’s commitment to protection of our waterways, is also of concern to SCEC who say there is a failure to act by the Environment Minister, the Hon Andrew Powell MP for the impact of the Caloundra South development on the Pumicestone Passage water quality.
“Stockland’s own Water Quality studies show that the development will not meet the water quality objectives for the Pumicestone Passage mandated under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and condition 35 of the Master Plan approval. We have repeatedly written to Minister Powell calling upon him to act, as he is required to do under the legislation, to ensure water quality objectives will be met. All we’ve had in response is correspondence assuring us that ‘stringent conditions’ have been placed on the development. This ignores the fact that the developers own reports show that these conditions are not being met. As water quality hovers between a C and D grade for this internationally listed wetland, there is little confidence in future water quality management.” Mrs. Jones said.
For most elections, SCEC produces a scorecard evaluation of environmental and related policies of all parties to aid voters in making informed choices. The short lead up to this election over the holiday period did not allow for this to occur.
“If a scorecard had been produced, then the LNP would fail miserably” observed Mrs. Jones.
“With the election called during the summer of cricket, it could be said there is a clear take home message in 2015.
The current State government has not only dropped the ball on the environment, they're digging up the pitch with little thought for the state of the field or who, beyond vested interests, would like to play.
There is little doubt that at this election, there is a need to vote for the environment. The Newman LNP government’s track record on the environment and sustainability clearly shows that another term of poor policy would be disastrous for Queensland.