04 May 2019

A Shorten Labor Government will provide urgent action and overdue leadership to step up the fight to protect Australia’s environment and hand on a better environment to the next generation.

We will invest more than $1 billion in new environment programs to tackle the extinction crisis, cut single-use plastics, protect our beaches and coastlines, clean up the nation’s rivers, double the number of Indigenous Rangers caring for country, and protect the Great Barrier Reef.

For six years, the Liberals have attacked, undermined and cut Australia’s environmental programs, policies and institutions.

At the same time, our environment is under growing pressure.

Drought across eastern Australia, reef bleaching events, fires in Tasmania and thousands of fish deaths in the Murray Darling system all speak to the scale of the environmental challenge facing us in the 21st century.

In February the Liberals confirmed Australia has suffered the first global mammal extinction directly as a result of climate change.

It is time to fundamentally change our approach to addressing the environmental crisis.

A Shorten Labor Government will reshape Australia’s approach to caring for our unique natural assets, reform Australia’s environmental laws and create a new, independent Environment Protection Agency – if we get the entire framework right, we will protect our environment for our children and grandchildren.

Labor’s Protecting the Environment plan will include:

$100 million Native Species Protection Fund
To drive a national effort to save our iconic wildlife, a Shorten Labor Government will establish a Native Species Protection Fund – which will seek to both restore numbers of endangered plants and animals and eliminate non-native pests.

The Fund will be established through a $100 million investment to tackle the most pressing extinction and invasive species issues. Labor will call on all states and territories, business and civil society to join in a national effort to protect our iconic animal and plant species.

Projects could be as simple as engaging Indigenous Rangers to help eliminate invasive plants and feral animals, to much more innovative ideas: for example, it could help fund research into new forms of pest control – such as baits, poisons, or even research to engineer genetic traits to eliminate invasive species after a number of generations. The Fund will also be used to increase the pace at which recovery plans are put in place and acted on which has all but ground to a halt under the Liberals.

$62 million Beaches and Coastlines Climate Adaptation Plan
Labor will invest $62 million to help repair our coastlines, tackle coastal erosion and prepare our beaches for the impact of climate change.  Around 85 per cent of the population now live in coastal regions and the Australian coast is of immense economic, social and environmental importance to the nation.

Australia’s coastal communities are already seeing the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels, in increased coastal erosion, a loss of dunes and inundation.

Our plan will:

  • Facilitate a national framework for building climate resilience, bringing together local and state governments, community groups, the business community, researchers and relevant Commonwealth agencies and departments. The national framework will provide the leadership that has been lacking under the Liberals to develop plans to adapt to climate impacts.
  • Re-invigorate the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) to support the creation and dissemination of research into local climate change impacts, through re-funding of the program with $3 million per year.
  • Introduce a $50 million Coastal Rehabilitation Fund, to work with communities, local governments, and the Australian Coastal Council Association to directly support coastal rehabilitation projects that restore beaches and adjacent coastal environments, and improve their resilience.  

$50 million towards Environmental law reform and a new EPA
Labor will:

  • Reform Australia’s environmental law, by passing a new Federal Environment Act.
  • Where possible, harmonise state and federal laws to minimise duplication.
  • Create a new Act which obligates the Australian Government to both protect and restore Australia’s environment.
  • Establishing a new national Environment Protection Authority with the mission to protect Australia’s natural environment and deliver rigorous compliance.

The new EPA will be informed by the best available scientific advice, manage development approvals, ensure compliance with environmental law, collect data and evaluate progress. If required it will also undertake consultation on key environmental issues.

Labor will deliver a new legal framework which compels the Australian Government to actively protect our unique natural environment, and demonstrates national leadership. It will be an Act which protects our environment, but also supports job-creating development, and we will aim to deliver this in our first term.

Today’s announcement is in addition to commitments that have already been announced:

  • $200 million Urban Rivers and Corridors Program.
  • $90 million Plastics and Recycling Package.
  • More than $200 million to double the number of Indigenous Rangers over five years.
  • More than $400 million through the return of Great Barrier Reef Foundation grant, to be reinvested through public agencies
  • $30 million for Reef HQ.

Labor has a proud history of protecting Australia’s environment. We saved the Franklin River and the Daintree Rainforest, we led the world in ozone protection, we protected Australia’s oceans, we ratified the Kyoto Agreement and introduced world-leading climate laws.

This election is a choice between investing in a better future for our children and protecting the environment or more of the Liberals cuts and chaos.

It is a choice between Labor’s plan to hand on a better deal for the next generation, or the Liberals’ cuts and chaos.