Connector Newsletter Issue 34

Federal Election- the outcome for our Biosphere

June 30, 2022

By Geoff Brooks, Foundation Board Deputy Chair and Treasurer

A resounding message from the recent federal election was that climate action must be front and centre of the political agenda for the incoming Labor government.

The question for communities seeking strong and effective action on climate and associated issues of biodiversity preservation and restoration will be how fast and far the new government will move on these issues.

Climate policy must join the dance with the imminent challenge of the rising cost of living, in particular soaring energy prices driven by a combination of supply problems created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and issues closer to home like the cost-competitiveness of various power generation options and the need for huge investment in power distribution infrastructure.

It is therefore encouraging that the Albanese Labor government has appointed Tanya Plibersek as Minister for the Environment and Chris Bowen as Minister for Climate Change and Energy. These are two of its most senior and experienced politicians and cabinet members and their appointments ensure that environment and climate are central to the government’s policy development and priorities.

Labor went to the election with a policy to reduce emissions by 43% on the 2005 levels by 2030. The teal independents pitched a 60% reduction and the Greens 75%. The Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has said Labor will execute its target, if necessary, without requiring legislation, a reflection of the fact that the Greens balance of power in the Senate may be problematic for the 43% to be passed into law.

Climate action will undoubtedly be an issue at Victoria’s state election in November this year but, almost certainly, the die has been cast and the platforms for all aspirants to the treasury benches will need to include a plan to tackle climate and environmental issues.

This is the context within which the Biosphere Foundation is considering its strategy for future projects.

It is encouraging that the successful candidate for Flinders, Zoe McKenzie, included a $920,000 commitment to the restoration of oyster reefs and seagrasses in Western Port in her campaign.

Recognising this was contingent on the re-election of the Morrison Government, it is obviously no longer guaranteed. However, the inclusion of these two projects in the campaign was based on the merits of the environmental case and benefits, previously discussed with former Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, and Zoe earlier in the year.

The election outcome does not diminish their value and we will be keen to work with our new local member to advocate their merits to the new government.

We are also keen to engage with the members of parliament elected in the other four electorates fringing Western Port – Dunkley, Holt, Latrobe and Monash –  to ensure that they have an opportunity to understand and lend their cross-party support to climate action and biodiversity in the biosphere reserve.

Separately, we are looking forward to the research findings from Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab in the second half of this year. The contribution of mangroves, seagrasses and saltmarsh in Western Port and the eastern edge of Port Phillip Bay to carbon absorption will support Australia’s commitment to its 2030 targets and the 2050 net zero commitment, which is common to all political parties at state and federal level and across most local councils.

One of the Biosphere Foundation’s strategic imperatives is to promote sustainable development of the reserve, a challenge for government, our partner councils and the broader community in one of the fastest growing residential corridors in Australia.

Our purpose is to enable people in our communities to connect with our environment in a manner that will ensure it remains one of the most attractive places to live and work for future generations.

We will be expanding awareness, education, water management and other programs to promote sustainable living and care for our environment. For this, we will rely heavily on the support of our five council partners, our educational institutions and business to extend our reach and impact to their communities.

Achieving our goals for the Western Port Biosphere Reserve requires us to advocate and work with governments of all political persuasions. Thankfully, the electorate is unifying behind the call for climate action and environmental stewardship.

We see the 2022 federal election’s powerful message on these aspirations as a positive enabler of our future efforts.


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