The Conservation Council has prepared a Briefing Paper on the ACT 2015-2016 Budget allocation for weeds management. The Budget does not include any provision for additional weed management as was the case under the “Enhanced Biodiversity Initiative” in the Parliamentary Agreement. The net result is a cut of 53% to discretionary funding and a 43% reduction in overall spending. This will have significant impacts on the nationally significant biodiversity of our “Bush Capital”.
The Conservation Council presented on 12 June 2015 to the ACT Legislative Assembly Select Committee on Estimates 2015-16 (the Estimates Committee) to talk on 2015-16 ACT Budget. The ACT Legislative Assembly has a good process of asking community organisations to submit issues to the Estimates Committee for their consideration before they proceed to ask questions of Ministers and Directorates. The Estimates Committee also holds public hearings to ask questions of some of the community organisations.
While we noted that all parties in the ACT Legislative Assembly have a high-level commitment to the environment, and a lot of good work is funded, the Budget allocates funds which show, and set, the Government’s priorities and we have concerns with the 2015-16 Budget:
the apparent reduction of funding for weed management (“one year’s seeds is seven, or even fifty, year’s weeds”);
the Government’s regime of biodiversity offsets is not transparent;
the proposed spend of $2.8million developing burning of waste for energy has not had enough consultation and seems not to deal with reducing waste first;
Budget did not provide funding for Environmental Defender’s Office;
there is funding for One-Stop-Shop for environmental approvals even though federal parliament has not yet approved it and both ALP and Greens at national level do not support, and;
ACT Government should reveal more about its investments in fossil fuels and set out a strategy for reducing investment to zero – if you support action on climate change (which all ACT parties do), then why would you continue to invest in industries that will have to cease?
We also took a question on whether there needs to one single conservation agency. Yes, we said, the evidence is mounting on what was already a convincing case accepted by all parties and part of the Parliamentary Agreement.
We only had half an hour so talked fast.
The Committee let us take a photo – this is the first and best of a blurred lot. Thanks to MLAs Chris Bourke, Nicole Lawder, Megan Fitzharris and Brendan Smyth.
A lot of work goes into the menu for a World Environment Day Dinner from the producers doing the work to provide the ingredients and to Janet Jeffs and Ginger Catering to design and prepare a beautiful meal. If you were there, or even if you weren’t, here’s what we had on our plate. Pictured is just dessert.
The Conservation Council’s input to the House of Representatives inquiry into Registered Environment Organisations has been called sub461 and is now online. We argued that environmental protection needs advocacy as well as on-the-ground work. We suggested some recommendations for the Committee:
That the Committee report recognises that advocacy for the environment is an essential and inseparable part of “protection and enhancement of the natural environment”
That the Committee’s report recognise that environmental research often relies on public advocacy before it is undertaken.
That the Committee’s report acknowledge the importance of the precautionary principle in consideration of environmental matters.
That the Committee’s report recognise that on-ground activities are an important part but only a part of the of the overall effort required to enhance and protect the environment and that advocacy is an integral part of environmental protection.
As at World Environment Day 5 June 2015 there were over 600 submissions to the Inquiry. We look forward to the Committee’s full and fair consideration of all the issues raised.