On 13 October 2020, Queensland's leading environmental organisations co-hosted a debate on where the parties stand on environment and climate issues. What follows below is a summary 👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽
Keeping protected areas a high priority in Queensland:
Election Environment Debate 2020
Key spokespeople from Labor, the LNP and the Greens returned time and again to the importance of national parks and protected areas on private land at the Queensland Election Environment Debate on Tuesday.
Minister for the Environment Leeanne Enoch, Opposition Spokesperson for the Environment David Crisafulli and Greens MP for Maiwar Michael Berkman covered issues including climate action, land clearing, reef protection and funding for protected areas at the online forum.
Here are some of their key messages about national parks and nature refuges, and our analysis:
Minister for the Environment Leeanne Enoch MP pointed to the Palaszczuk Government’s recent announcement of a Protected Areas Strategy:
"We established a Protected Area Strategy: a 10-year plan with a $60 million down payment that sees $28 million worth of strategic
acquisitions, $8 million to expand the support of private protected areas... We have also established a nation-leading special wildlife reserve."
It was a welcome relief when the Palaszczuk Government finally released their promised Protected Area Strategy in early October. The Strategy lays a strong foundation for building bigger and better national parks and protected areas on private land, as well as growing support for better taking care of nature, in particular by doubling the number of Indigenous ranger jobs. However, while the $60 million ‘down payment’ is a good start, the Strategy lacks the funding needed to achieve the 17% international target all parties have committed to pursuing, and it also lacks any binding targets for its success. We are calling for more funding to meet both community demand and the need of nature for more, well-managed national parks and protected areas on private land.
Shadow Environment Minister David Crisafulli promised there is more to hear from him in the coming weeks on a protected area commitment, including on private land:
"I have an ambitious strategy and I look forward to announcing how we are going to increase the protected areas in the days to come.
This is going to be an environmental legacy that I sincerely look forward to being involved in."
We were excited to hear this promise of a protected area commitment before the election in three weeks’ time. We’ll be looking to see if the plan includes a real pathway to doubling the size of our protected area estate, and the funding to get us there. Watch this space.
Michael Berkman - Greens MP for Maiwar said the Greens support environment groups’ call for $135 million annual funding for Queensland’s protected areas:
"We know just how short of the international benchmark we are and also it’s not just the area, but making sure in Outback areas there are
actually national parks that are representative of those ecosystems to ensure we have the diversity in the protected area estate that we should be aiming to."
It was great to hear the Greens support the calls of the Protected Area Alliance (which includes Our Living Outback) for a $135 million a year increase in funding for national parks and protected areas on private land. Mr Berkman pointed out that this investment is actually less than that recommended by the Queensland Treasury Corporation in 2018 for an investment of $225 million to take the size of the protected area estate from its current level of 8.2% to 13% (still short of the 17% target).
The Queensland Election Environment Debate was co-hosted by the Queensland Election Environment Debate alongside Queensland Conservation Council, The Wilderness Society, Australian Marine Conservation Society, Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF.