Labor will stand up for nature

Labor will stand up for nature Main Image

By Terri Butler MP, Shadow Minister for the Environment

16 May 2022

The Morrison-Joyce government has a record of cuts, incompetence, and failure when it comes to standing up for nature.

There was an extinction crisis underway even before the national bushfire crisis of the summer of 2019/20. Then, those fires saw billions of animals killed or harmed, and more than 12 million hectares of land have burned, with devastating impacts on our natural environment and Australian species.

Australia needs a government with a strong commitment to our natural environment. But under the current government:

  • environment department funding was cut by 40%;
  • the national koala conservation strategy that finished in 2014 was never replaced, and the koala recovery plan was 7 years overdue when it was finally made;
  • there was a massive blowout in delays and errors in decision-making under the nation's principal environmental law; 
  • there has been a catastrophic lack of transparency, exemplified by their decision to grant almost half a billion dollars to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation without a tender process or even an application, and their more recent refusal to publish the now-overdue State of the Environment report;
  • only 2% of threatened species recovery plans have been made within the timeframes required by law. 

Only an Albanese Labor government can start to reverse the damage that this Morrison-Joyce government has wreaked over their near-decade in office.

If elected, an Albanese Labor government will stand up for nature.

Protecting the Great Barrier Reef

The greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change.

The Morrison-Joyce government will never take real action on climate change. Their climate policy is controlled by Barnaby Joyce, aided and abetted by the likes of Matthew Canavan and little-known Liberal senator Gerard Rennick who believes that there is a conspiracy in the Bureau of Meteorology to alter climate data. 

The only way to get real action on climate change is to remove the Morrison-Joyce government by electing an Albanese Labor government. 

Because the Reef's greatest threat is climate change, the most important policies that Labor can implement to protect the Reef are our climate policies, like our Powering Australia policy which you can read here:

There are also other threats to the Great Barrier Reef, like water quality problems, the Crown-of-Thorns starfish, and pollution. Labor will stand up for the Great Barrier Reef. You can read about our commitments here:

I was in Tropical North Queensland last week, talking about these commitments. I spoke to ABC breakfast TV from the Esplanade in Cairns. You can watch that interview here:

Standing up for Nature

Under the Morrison-Joyce government there has been gross neglect of protecting native species. The Auditor-General slammed their performance in a recent report that found that during this government's near-decade in office only 2% of threatened species recovery plans had been made within the legally-required timeframes. It's a national disgrace, particularly as Australia is a world leader in mammal extinctions.

Labor will have a massive job ahead of us to reverse the damage should we win government at the coming election. We will start by establishing a Saving Native Species program, to address the current government's failings in relation to threatened species, as well as invasive species. You can read our recent announcements here:

Icons and threats

Labor will stand up for the koala by supporting koala hospitals, chlamydia research, and the creation of new national conservation strategy to replace the one that expired almost a decade ago and was never replaced. We will also make sure the koala continues to have a recovery plan, a formal plan made under environmental law. 

Labor will commit more than $24 million towards efforts to eradicate yellow crazy ants. This ant is in the world's top 100 invasive species. It is critical that it be eradicated and Labor will support efforts to do that. 

In the Northern Territory, Labor will scale up the Gamba Army, a mass effort to eradicate the invasive pest gamba grass. This important grassroots program is critical to stop this pest from crowding out native species, and to reduce the massive additional fire hazard that it poses.

Towards a genuine circular economy

Labor’s waste and recycling plan will reduce waste, boost recycling, improve the health of our environment, underwrite innovative manufacturing and create sustainable jobs.

We will use the Government’s purchasing power to help drive an increase in demand for recycled materials. This will boost recycling rates, reduce waste in our environment, lower the emissions caused by landfill, and create sustainable manufacturing opportunities and jobs right here in Australia.

Indigenous Rangers and Protected Areas

Labor will double the number of Indigenous Rangers and significantly increase funding for Indigenous Protected Areas. We will also work with Rangers' organisations to head towards gender parity amongst Rangers.

This was my first policy announcement as the shadow environment minister, and I am very proud of it. 

The funding will mean that Traditional Owners, Indigenous Rangers and groups will receive further support and autonomy in their traditional land and sea management practices. The funding will be used for things like improving biosecurity, restoring biodiversity, and managing cultural sites.

Labor will provide certainty for Ranger groups and IPAs by committing to longer contracts and requiring that contract extension negotiations begin no later than eighteen months before the end of the contract.

To read more about these and other environment policies head to:

Labor has a proud history of protecting the environment. Labor’s legacy in government is that we protected the Daintree, Kakadu, the Great Barrier Reef, the Franklin and Antarctica. We created Landcare and we created the largest network of marine parks in the world.

The Morrison-Joyce government doesn't have a plan to fix their own failures in environmental protection. 

Unless we act now as a nation, our koalas will disappear, our Reef will be irreparably harmed, and the Australian way of life will change forever. So I am asking you to vote 1 Labor at the coming election, to stand up for nature.