A questionnaire was sent by Oatley Flora & Fauna Conservation Society to 3 candidates for the seat of Banks to gain insight into candidates’ position and/or opinion on a variety of environmental issues before the coming election. The questions and candidates’ answers are published below as they become available. Answers are in order of receipt.
Section 1: Candidates’ personal positions on environmental issues
Personal Question 1 Do you believe current Climate Change is real and represents a major threat to our world?
Clark – Yes
Gambian – Yes
Personal Question 2 Do you believe Climate Change is predominantly caused by human activity as concluded by the majority of scientists, eg, by the IPCC and CSIRO?
Clark – Yes
Gambian – Yes
Personal Question 3 What demonstrable actions have you taken to minimise your personal and your household’s environmental footprint?
Clark – Our household has water tanks, solar hot water and solar panels. We grow our own fresh vegies and herbs and avoid using heating or air conditioning by using plants and blockout shades to effectively control the temperature inside the house. While I drive quite a bit these days out of necessity, I much prefer to take the train or my trusty scooter to my destination!
Gambian - I try to communicate by email and work electronically as much as possible. I have a young daughter, and my wife and I are conscious about how our actions will impact on her future. Our household recycles and we have a compost bin. We also try to do things like take our own water bottles with us when our family us out and about rather than buy plastic bottles, and take our own shopping bags to do the grocery shopping (when we are organised enough to!)
Personal Question 4 Over the last decade what are the significant and demonstrable actions you have taken to protect and enhance the environment.
Clark - I studied horticulture when I was younger however I don’t have many chances to use the hands-on environmental skills – I have a desk job – which is a shame. However, I contribute to the cause in non-hands-on ways where I can, by writing letters and emails, signing petitions, donating and volunteering for various environmental organisations, including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Keeping councils accountable for their dodgy environmental governance is a particular hobby of mine.
Gambian - As an active member of the Labor party, and candidate for Banks, I am proud of our policies relating to the environment and climate action. I believe that strong public policy is the way to secure the most significant of changes needed, including those to protect the environment.
Personal Question 5 What are the significant environmental problems you believe are relevant to the Banks electorate and the country and what actions have you taken to protect, restore, or advocate for the environment?
Clark - I am very concerned about the health of the Georges River and surrounding bushland – particularly since Sydney Water’s ageing and overflowing sewerage systems continue to pose a threat to the water. One of my major campaigns this election is to clean up Yeramba Lagoon in the Georges River National Park. This once-beautiful spot has been allowed to stagnate and is sadly infested by noxious weeds. The Greens want to see tidal flow returned to the lagoon, the weeds removed and the lagoon dredged so that this problem doesn’t reoccur.
Gambian – The bushland and waterways of this area are to be treasured. In May this year, I was proud to announce $300,000 funding to the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service for the restoration and regeneration of Yeramba Lagoon. This will restore the natural tidal flow, improve water quality and reduce aquatic weeds.
Section 2: Environmental Issues
Question 1 Will you support legislation to enact a ban on both mining and gas extraction from all designated water catchment areas, for example the Georges and Woronora Rivers in Sydney?
Clark – Yes In relation to CSG, the Greens support a full ban on CSG extraction activities across NSW, not just in water catchment areas.
Gambian – Labor recognises the community concerns about the extraction of gas from coal seams, shales and tight formations. When we were in Government, Labor added a Water Trigger to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act to cover CSG and large coal mining developments. This ensures that if these projects impact water resources, then they are rigorously assessed under the EPBC Act.
Question 2 Do you support the enactment of “No-Go zone” legislation to exclude mining and gas extraction from prime agricultural land and environmentally significant areas?
Clark – Yes. See also answer to Question 1.
Gambian - Labor’s policy will extend the protection provided by the Water Trigger to ensure that any shale or tight formation gas developments that impact water resources will also be subject to a full assessment under the EPBC Act and approval from the Minister for Environment, including an assessment by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee.
Labor will ensure full assessment and management of environmental and other impacts, including on water reserves and co-existence with other agricultural activities.
It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to protect Australia’s most precious environmental assets, including prime agricultural land.
Question 3 Further to Question 2 above, do you support additional supplementary funding for and to address: the growing threats posed by climate change, bush fires, feral animal population growth, and noxious weeds? What measures do you propose?
Clark – Yes We have announced our support for more money to our firefighters as we realise they are on the front line of climate change. We want to see more government investment in renewable energy and electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions. In relation to feral animals, I support humane culling but only as a last resort.
Gambian – As part of a Labor Government, I would, of course, consult with relevant Ministers to secure funding for environmental projects in the Banks electorate.
Question 4 What level of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) do you support as Australia’s actions in response to climate change?
Clark – 100% renewable energy is possible, essential and affordable. This election, we are campaigning for 90% renewable by 2030.
Gambian – Labor is committed to ensuring a 50% of Australia’s energy is from renewable sources by 2030. For more detail, please see Labor’s climate change policy at: http://www.100positivepolicies.org.au/ , under “Acting on climate change, protecting the environment.”
Question 5 Do you support a fair Australia wide mandatory residential solar feed-in tariff which encourages increased use of renewable energy? Would you discourage the increase of fixed costs for consumers with solar systems connected to the electrical grid?
Clark – Yes
Gambian – I personally would support a sensible initiative that encourages the use of solar energy. The details of how such a scheme would work would need extensive consultation to ensure a system that was effective, practical and fair. A Shorten Labor Government will initiate an Electricity Modernisation Review including a review of the National Electricity Market (NEM). The Review would consider the role of feed-in tariffs. You can read about Labor’s plan for cleaner energy here: http://www.100positivepolicies.org.au/cleaner_power_generation
Question 6 Do you support the establishment of more Marine Parks, to assist in conserving Australia’s marine environment? Where do you envisage these parks would be?
Clark – Yes We want to restore the coastal network of marine sanctuaries that was abolished by the Abbott government in 2013. In particular this election the Greens are supporting a Sydney Marine Park and a marine sanctuary on the Northern Beaches (including Long Reef and Cabbage Tree Bay).
Gambian – In November 2012, 40 new Commonwealth Marine Reserves were proclaimed by the Labor Government. A Shorten Labor Government will re-commit to both our expanded network of Marine Parks and a Fisheries Adjustment Package to ensure any impacted fishers will be assisted with any impacts from expanded Marine Parks. The Labor position can be found here: http://www.100positivepolicies.org.au/marine_parks
Question 7. What measures do you support to preserve and restore the Great Barrier Reef?
Clark – Our initiatives include:
$500 million in grant funding to improve water quality
$1.2 billion Reef Repair Loan facility to help farmers transition to low-polluting methods and reduce fertiliser runoff
Reverse funding cuts to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
No Adani coal mine!
Gambian – Our Great Barrier Reef Plan has three pillars:
Science and Research: Improve science and research and monitoring of reef issues to ensure the protection and sustainability of the Reef is based on the latest, specialised science. This includes an additional investment in climate and reef science at the CSIRO of $50 million.
Direct Environmental Investment: Integrated direct investment to improve water quality, land management, agricultural and transport sustainability and environmental impacts.
Reef Management: Improve Reef management architecture and incentives to fix the fragmented and uncoordinated approach that has for too long characterised Reef management and conservation.
You can read more about Labor’s Great Barrier Reef plan here: http://www.100positivepolicies.org.au/great_barrier_reef_plan
Question 8. Do you support the establishment of a federal equivalent of the NSW ICAC and the limitation of donations to political parties to ensure that there is no undue influence from companies particularly developers, mining companies, etc. whose activities can be detrimental to the environment?
Clark – Yes
Gambian – I’m not sure how such a body would work, however I would be happy to discuss any specific concerns you have in relation to improper political influence by companies.
Question 9. Will you encourage investors, including superannuation funds, banks, financial advisers etc. to divest from coal related companies to encourage the transition to a clean electricity future required to assist in the mitigation of climate change?
Clark – Yes
Gambian – Transitioning electricity generation to renewable energy is critical to reducing carbon pollution. We want to see Australia return to being a front-runner in renewable energy investment. Labor’s policy settings will see lower power prices, carbon pollution reductions and thousands of jobs across Australia. With 20,000 Australians currently employed in the renewable energy sector, Labor has identified this as a growth industry.
Question 10. Will you push for the federal establishment of an over-arching and uniform Australia wide container deposit legislation, similar to those in South Australia and the Northern Territory and promised by the NSW government, to help in the fight against litter?
Clark – Yes
Gambian - A Labor Government would actively support the states in developing their own container deposit schemes, but if this hasn’t happened by 2020, Labor would revisit the issue with an eye to federal legislation.