Join us to hear from Federal Election Candidates!

The Conservation Council has invited candidates contesting the upcoming Federal Election in ACT seats to participate in a candidate forum.

Join us as we outline our priorities for climate action and biodiversity protection and hear from the candidates about their policies.

Do you have a burning question that you would like to ask? We are taking suggestions for questions which will be collated and curated, and put to candidates. Click on the link to submit your question before April 21st.

When: 6.30–8.00pm Thursday 28th April 2022

Where: White Eagle Polish Club, 38 David Street, Turner

Calling for meaningful action

In the lead-up to the 2022 Federal Election, there are two key priorities for the environment: meaningful action on climate change, and the protection of biodiversity – here in the ACT, our biodiversity focus is the Lawson grasslands.

The record-breaking heat, fires, rainfall, floods and species extinctions of the past few years clearly demonstrate that global climate change is already having dramatic impacts on the lives of Australian people and natural ecosystems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that we need immediate, deep and sustained emissions reductions to avoid climate catastrophe.

Australia must have a comprehensive and proactive strategy and action plan to address climate change and its impacts. The Conservation Council is calling on the Australian Government to set strong targets that commit to reducing emissions by 75% by 2030 and:

  • Deliver 100% of our electricity from sun, wind and other renewable power and storage by 2030;
  • Publish a national plan to clean up transport and drive the shift to active travel and electric vehicles;
  • End public funding for coal, oil and gas;
  • Deliver an Australian Trees for Climate Plan to reduce climate pollution by at least 1 billion tonnes by 2030; and
  • Immediately double Australia’s current climate finance to $3 billion over 2020–25 and scale up Australia’s contributions to global climate finance to provide a fair share by 2030.

Australia leads the world on extinction, with the highest number of mammals declared extinct since European settlement. Indicators for native biodiversity are declining and habitat loss is pushing endangered species closer to extinction due to national environmental laws that fail to protect them. Critical habitat and ecosystems are being lost due to clearing for urban development and because of the impacts of climate change.

We are not immune to these issues in the ACT. Located at the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station, the Lawson grasslands have extraordinary natural significance. The site contains large areas of Natural Temperate Grassland and Box-Gum Woodland; both nationally listed critically-endangered ecological communities.

Yet, Defence Housing Australia (DHA), a statutory Federal Government Authority, has proposed development of 416 dwellings at the site that will destroy large areas of critically endangered Natural Temperate Grassland. Only approximately 150 of these residences are to be retained by DHA for defence families; the remainder, which will be built directly over areas of protected grassland, are to be sold off to support the project.

Given that only around 1% of the pre-settlement Natural Temperate Grasslands is protected in nature reserves and national parks, it’s crucial that we protect what is left. While access to housing in the ACT is important, destroying nationally-significant ecosystems is not the way to deliver that. While this development still requires approval under Federal environmental laws, until now, federal environment laws have been unable to stop environmentally-damaging developments.

Already more than 100 experts and environmental organisations have spoken out against this development, and over 600 have signed a petition calling on DHA not to proceed. In addition, it is important to strengthen national environmental laws.

This election, we are calling on parties and candidates to commit to set strong national environmental standards enshrined in law to protect and restore Australia’s nationally threatened wildlife and ecosystems, and our nationally and internationally significant wetlands and heritage places.