Protect Our Waterways & Natural Environment

 

Water is essential for life, and the waterways of the Northern Rivers region once sustained our communities. Sadly, pollution and mismanagement of catchments over many decades has seen our rivers become stagnant and lifeless.

The Richmond and Brunswick Rivers are some of the dirtiest and most degraded on the coast of New South Wales.  Parts of the Richmond River received D, E and F ratings in a recent river health analysis. We will undertake urgent action to protect the Richmond River Catchment through a $235 million plan across five years to revive the river and restore its ecological integrity. Not only will this protect our waterways, but it will also revitalise the once-thriving fishing industry and offer opportunities for aquaculture.

We are committed to a vigilant policy that puts the environment first by rationalising government policy towards wetlands protection, integrating the state wetlands management policy with regional and local planning processes and ensuring that no further wetlands will be lost.

Water mining can damage aquifers and also leads to the disruption of local communities and local ecologies from the heavy footprint of industrial water mining equipment and vehicles. We will give local communities power back by allowing Councils to ban water mining under their Local Environment Plans, giving them the ability to prohibit extraction.

Our plan for Protecting our Environment:

  • Richmond River revival plan
  • Protecting wetlands
  • No water mining
  • Protect forests and save the koalas
  • Minimising waste

 

Richmond River Revival Plan

The Rivers are in crisis. The once pristine river that supported a thriving fishing and aquaculture industry is now one in which fish and sea-life die in droves. The river has been allowed to degrade in quality, despite numerous alarm bells raised by various reports. The time for reports is over - now is the time for action.

We have a comprehensive and detailed plan to restore the Richmond River through investing $235 million over ten years to bring the river back to health. This will be done by appointing a Rivers Commissioner with a broad mandate to restore the rivers to health through revegetation and regeneration schemes, establishing a covenant scheme, and working with the traditional owners of the land and other measures. Through this, we will revive the Richmond River.

Through restoring the rivers, we not only bring back cleaner rivers that can support life; we can also bring back opportunities in sustainable aquaculture and fishing that have been lost. You can view our comprehensive plan to restore the Richmond river here.

 

Our plan will:

  • Revive the Richmond River
  • Augment the Brunswick River Rescue Plan
  • Cleaner rivers that can support life
  • Opportunities in sustainable aquaculture and fishing

 

Protect our Wetlands

The Greens value our wetlands across the state. Wetlands play a vital role in healthy waterways by, filtering pollutants, precipitating sediments and fostering new generations of flora and fauna. They act as natural flood mitigation tools, reducing peak flows and retaining water in ecosystems for later use.

Unfortunately, through a combination of urban expansion, inappropriate development, altered water regimes, stormwater pollution and drainage, many wetlands are in danger of being lost. The sad example of the Murray-Darling basin wetlands is a flagship cautionary tale - one we should heed.

We are committed to regenerating our wetlands through aligning strategies to ensure maximum protection, integrating the state wetlands protection policy with regional and local planning processes and setting a firm target: no more wetlands will be lost.

 

Our plan will:

  • Align strategies to ensure maximum protection
  • Preserve unique ecosystems
  • Prevent wetland loss

 

No Water mining

Bulk water mining and extraction is an unpopular, unsustainable activity that councils and communities don’t want. Apart from unknown impacts on surface and subterranean water, the use of industrial equipment and vehicles generates pollution, emissions and disruptions for local communities and the environment.

While councils have listened to their communities and attempted to ban water mining, court rulings mean these bans are unlikely to stand. The Greens are supportive of local communities banning them and will give power back to locals to formally ban water mining through Local Environment Plans. We will also completely review the way water licenses are granted in NSW to make sure we are future protecting our clean water supplies for food and human consumption.

Doing so will protect our environment, guarantee drinking water, stop unneeded emissions and pollution and give local communities a say in what happens in their world.

 

Our plan will:

  • Stop industrial trucks and vehicles from ruining local roads
  • Give power back to local communities
  • Protect our drinking water

 

Protect Forests and save the Koalas

Our public native forests in Northern NSW are sick and continue to be over extracted to prop up an industry that refuses to embrace the present and welcome the future. These forests are some of the most important refuges for many of our most threatened species, particularly the iconic koala. They provide values more important than timber and need to be managed for those values. The Nationals/Liberal Coalition has just pushed through new rules that will see our public native forests logged more heavily and many of the hard-won protections of the 1990s removed.

We will also protect the trees and nature that exist in our public spaces in our cities and towns. I was proud to have secured $166,000 of funding to protect coastal cypress pines in Brunswick Heads, and I will keep fighting to ensure that we have thriving nature and green spaces in our cities.

Koalas are an indicator species that highlight the broader extinction crisis facing our native animal populations. They have suffered at the hands of National/Liberal Coalition and Labour Governments for decades. The current coalition government introduced the most regressive land clearing and threatened species laws which will certainly see the extinction of koalas in time – most koala experts say by 2025. We worked hard to establish a Koala National Park in the last term of Parliament, but National Liberals and Labor voted against our amendments. We will keep working to safeguard the Koalas through a $500,000 program for tagging and tracking Koalas and continuing to work for a Great Koala National Park.

We’re going to keep providing a voice for our forests and our koalas, and we are going to keep supporting groups that work to safeguard our nature. Whether these are groups like Mary Gardener’s Waterway’s program that protect our waters or the rangers at Bungalung National Park - they all need better resourcing so we can keep our nature thriving.  We are committed to protecting forests and the species who call it their home from unwanted development which would destroy even more of our forests at a time when we need to be keeping them the most.

 

Our plan will:

  • End to Native Forest Logging on our public forest estate with our forests to be managed for Climate, Koalas, Wildlife, Water, Jobs, Recreation and Education.
  • Keep working to preserve the Koalas by establishing a Great Koala National Park, implementing a comprehensive rehabilitation plan and removing the offsetting scheme for existing and potential Koalas.
  • Guarantee jobs and support for the workers and communities impacted by the end of native forest logging.
  • $500,000 for Koala tagging and tracking
  • Support groups that are protecting the environment like Mary Gardener Waterways, more ranger for Bundalung National Park

 

Minimising Waste

Our society must minimise the amount of waste it produces. Plastic, metal and electronic waste should be considered an opportunity, not a burden – because it provides the raw materials required by industry to manufacture new products.

Instead of a circular economy, where materials are recycled and reused, successive governments have created a massive waste crisis in NSW. China has stopped accepting co-mingled, and contaminated waste imports from Australia and waste is piling up. Microplastics and other pollutants threaten the health of our oceans and terrestrial environments, and rubbish litters many of our natural environments.

And here locally, it’s common to see beautiful beaches from Byron to Ballina littered with trash and plastic detritus - from straws to wrappers to other single-use packaging. Not only is this an eyesore - it has serious consequences for marine life and our wider ecosystems.

The Greens have a plan to reduce the amount of waste our society produces, while radically improving waste management systems to create a circular economy.

 

Our plan will:

  • A fund for soft plastic recycling which will fund soft plastic recycling machines and other waste minimisation and recycling incentives
  • Clean up our beaches and waterways from trash through a comprehensive waste reduction strategy.
  • Decrease food waste and feed hungry people through a food rescue fund which will provide money such as $20,000 in seed funding for Liberation Larder.