Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Labor’s environment policy - fails to build green political capital

“Today’s environment policy announcement is a missed opportunity that fails to build on Labor’s strong environment record.  Labor’s climate policy is notably weak.  This is a policy area where State Labor should distinguish itself sharply from the Coalition but instead has chosen to be a small political target,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“On wilderness and marine parks – the election policy is tragically silent.  These are policy areas where Labor has excelled.  On reserve acquisition there is a commitment for a Koala Plan, but where are the big future goals or even a clear restatement of its current goals?, Mr Muir asked.

“In November 2010 Premier Keneally endorsed a NSW submission for the inclusion of the Alps onto the World Heritage tentative list.  Plans to inscribe the Australian Alps to World Heritage list of properties and to expand the Blue Mountains listing are important initiatives that Labor has embraced, yet they are not in this policy. I don’t get it,” Mr Muir said.  

“I hope the Coalition moves forward to embrace World Heritage as Labor has dropped the ball in the last stages of the election campaign.  The Coalition parties should also adopt Labor’s mining and gas initiatives. The Coalition has already said it will carry forward to the Coal and Gas Strategic review by the Department of Planning, a wise move”, he said.

“Labor’s promise to plant a million trees in Western Sydney is welcome but the protection of endangered Cumberland Plains bushland in Sydney’s growth areas is a more pressing need.  Keeping the bush in the ground is a necessary complement to the planting of trees to restore increasingly fragmented bushland areas”, Mr Muir said.

“Proposals for ecologically sustainable park use, such major upgrade for walking tracks to service the population centres of Sydney, Wollongong and the Lower Hunter are welcome bread and butter initiatives.  These initiatives also should be embraced by the Coalition,” he said.

 All in all there is little to celebrate in this Environment Policy.  The Policy should have celebrated all its initiatives that would bear fruit in the next government, such as World Heritage for the Alps and the Gardens of Stone in the western Blue Mountains.  Labor hasn’t checked through their policy kit bag properly. Perhaps a few follow up media announcements are planned later in week”, Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (ah)