Matter of Public Interest - Environment


In Springwood there are over 1,000 hectares of forests and parks. Almost a quarter of the Springwood electorate is made up of natural green space. It is no wonder there are many concerned locals keen to explore this new Palaszczuk Labor government’s progress on our election commitments to protect our environment.

Recently two Springwood locals, Hannah McQuitty and Taylah Bruce, arranged a delegation to the Springwood electorate office. They came to hold me to account to the commitments that our government has made. I welcome this level of examination because, if nothing else, it will make sure that we are a government different from the one that we were elected to replace.

After that meeting I did some research. I looked into our progress and that of the previous government as well. I searched but did not find any evidence of local action by the previous government. There was not a single mention of plans to enhance Daisy Hill Forest or protect the vulnerable species that live there. There was nothing about access or facilities for the locals who enjoy it. I did a search of Hansard looking for a position, a comment, a mention by my predecessor and in three years there was not a single utterance of the words ‘environment’, ‘conservation’, ‘koala’, ‘mountain bike’, ‘horserider’ or ‘bushwalker’. There was no objection to the LNP’s laws that undermined scrutiny on environmental protections. In probably the clearest display of being out of touch with our community, it was the LNP government that slashed solar energy programs in a community where nearly every second household has a solar panel on their roof.

This Palaszczuk Labor government does care about the local, state and global environment. That is why we have moved quickly to save the reef and the nearby wetlands from the impacts of capital dredge spoil dumping. We have set ambitious targets for reducing nitrogen run-off by up to 80 per cent and sediment run-off by up to 50 per cent in key catchment areas. We are acting to clean up the water in and around the reef. This was a key election promise. That is why we committed $100 million over five years to water quality initiatives.

We promised to protect the Great Barrier Reef and that is what we are delivering. The draft decision of the World Heritage Committee to not list the Great Barrier Reef as in danger is a great outcome for Queensland and a testament to the strong policies of our government. I place on record my congratulations to the Minister for the Great Barrier Reef on his progress to date.

I also promised to deliver action on the environment locally. I committed to a local action plan to protect Daisy Hill Forest because I understand that the forest is at the heart of the Springwood community’s way of life. I will fight to protect it. That is why launching community consultation around this project at the anniversary of the Daisy Hill Koala Centre on the weekend made sense. 

It was a Labor government that built the Daisy Hill Koala Centre in 1995. It was a Labor government that refurbished it in 2009. On the weekend it was a Labor government that helped celebrate its 20th anniversary. We also took the significant step of declaring koalas would soon be listed as vulnerable across the entire state. Just like we have done with making our decisions about the Great Barrier Reef and renewable energy, our government has put science at the centre of our decision-making. We respect the opinion of the species technical committee, an independent panel of scientists, to lift the conservation status of the koala.

My community is blessed to host two great parks within its boundaries—the Daisy Hill Conservation Park and the Springwood Conservation Park. They are precious natural and community resources just like the Great Barrier Reef. But, just as with the reef, we must act to ensure that they do not become a victim of their success and carefully manage their increasing popularity. Recent figures show over 1,000 mountain bikers hitting one of the trails in just one weekend. There is strong community commitment to protecting this place. This is clearly recognisable with the hundreds of hours of time that volunteers devote to maintaining the forest and its trails for the enjoyment of everyone.

Credit is due to those volunteers. Credit is due to activists like Taylah and Hannah who invested their time into reef and marine advocacy. The truth is that this week’s UNESCO decision would not have happened without the efforts of people like Taylah and Hannah who have worked tirelessly to educate the community about the risk facing the reef and generate public support for bold policies like banning the dumping of capital dredge spoil in the World Heritage area.

I know that our community recognises Daisy Hill as a precious natural and community resource. This Labor government has already demonstrated that we are well on our way to delivering on our commitments, including those on the environment, in our first three months. That is why last Sunday served as another important step in delivering on those commitments as I initiated stage 1 of community consultation around the Daisy Hill action plan—a community effort that can deliver real benefits to our communities for decades to come. I welcome every member of the Springwood community taking part in this consultation process.

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