- first published in EcoNews from SCEC May-June 2013
Recent surveys in Australia and the US have found majority support for action on climate change. Clearly, even in these last bastions of climate denial, there is growing acknowledgement that we are facing a frightening future which will demand the employment of the best contemporary knowledge to come up with the most creative solutions, if we are to maintain our quality of life into the future.
But not the Federal Coalition. It is the conservative way to look back to the golden days of the past (and the Tea Party) for policy inspiration, and when you've backed yourself into a corner on carbon pricing with nowhere else to go, why not cobble up a crazy story and try to make it sound believable?
So what better for the Coalition than to reinvent the conservative ideology of 'work for the dole', combine it with Howard's Greencorps, dress it up as carbon reduction, and create a Green Army of 15000 to be recruited from somewhere within the ranks of the unemployed, disenchanted, and confused? The Green Army is tasked with planting 20 million trees by 2020, and this has become a major plank in the Coalition's 'Direct Action' policy - a title with a swaggering, cut the crap, General McArthurish appeal to those voters who, the Coalition hopes, won't think too much about it. Furthermore, 'Direct Action' echoes notions embodied in the Coalition's 'delivering frontline services' mantra - in this case, doing the carbon abatement 'here, in Australia, where we benefit directly from it'.
All sounding fair enough?
Well, no. The science is becoming far less certain around a second key plank in the Coalition's Direct Action policy - soil carbon's value for carbon sequestration – and economists almost universally condemn a third plank - the competitive grant scheme (effectively a carbon tax in disguise) where the government will buy reverse auction emissions reductions bids from businesses - because it will result in enormous administrative loads and ballooning taxpayer costs. As a result, the Coalition is finding that its Direct Action solution for carbon reduction is looking shakier than ever (although would-be deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce still can't see anything wrong with it because it sounds good and... should work anyway, whatever).
To avoid looking too silly the Coalition has quickly advanced the Green Army forward as the flagship solution, particularly for its neat opportunities to create warm fuzzy propaganda about winning community hearts and minds and boot-camping 'lazy' youth, but especially because it will provide endless ministerial photo ops around 'mission accomplished' tree planting events.
If we do try to assume for a moment that the Coalition in Government will be genuine about using the Green Army to help achieve their commitment to a 5% carbon emissions target by 2020, then the deployment of this 'army' will have to be at the very least on the 'shock and awe' scale. However, military jargon has always specialised in turning gore into glory. This will not be a disciplined army but a loose collection of 'militia', shanghaied for the job of planting 20 million trees by 2020, with a care factor somewhere around zero. And, if the Green Army is genuinely intended to meet its targets, it is the size, scale and speed needed to achieve its objectives that will create ugly problems. At 15000 strong, the 'Green Army' will be larger than most state police forces, over half the size of the Australian army and similar to the air force and navy, without the supporting infrastructure that these bodies have. It will be composed of young, generally poorly committed novices, learning as they go, conscripted for just six mistake filled months before being replaced by new recruits - their tour of duty terminating just as they might be starting to 'get it'. And this is one of the core problems. There is nothing wrong with planting lots of trees, but it has to be carried out with science and sympathy because ecosystems are very complex and enormous damage can be done through otherwise well-intentioned restoration schemes. And the challenge is huge - according to their Direct Action Plan, the Coalition aims to offset 15 million tonnes of emissions by 2020 through tree planting. To achieve this it has been estimated that an area of 25,000 square kilometres will be required, plus about 9,100 GL of water - two and a half times that proposed for the Murray Darling Basin Plan. So it will not be a trained and disciplined army which will face these impossible challenges, and the collateral damage is likely to be severe. Biodiversity will be the big loser, but also water quality and farming may be impacted, and communities and local councils will be obliged to pick up the pieces. Most pertinently, the objective of sequestering enough carbon to meet the 2020 five per cent carbon reduction target simply cannot be meaningfully assisted by planting 20 million trees in this way, within this time frame.
All existing koala habitat is essential for the future well being of Logan's resident koala population. And importantly all populations contribute to the genetic pool for the species and wide diversity is a potential safe guard in the event of a disaster such as bushfires which can deplete a koala population in that area. Though LACA Logan and Albert Conservation Association is advocating here for the iconic koala, this is an umbrella species for all. Without the flying fox - pollinator of eucalypts - only food source for the koala the fate of the koala is not certain. Tree clearing changes introduced by Newman government will we fear have dire consequences
Long term advocate for all environmental issues Barry Fitzpatrick has had an article published in Albert and Logan News. We thank them for publishing our concerns. If you also are concerned make sure that all your elected representative know. Use media eg comment on article in letter to editor, phone write email your local member - at all 3 levels of government.
Importantly also - REPORT ANY and ALL KOALA SIGHTINGS.
QAG Quarry Action Group led a well researched and successful campaign to oppose the establishment of a quarry in the rural area of Kerry Valley. Group members were pleased that Scenic Rim council refused the MCU application.
Unfortunately thes members have heard that "if SRRC had their time over, they would approve the Erin View quarry"
The State and Council claim (and it is legally the case) that the KRA designation is separate from the MCU approval process and is not intended to influence council consideration of the MCU. QAG advice is that in practice this is not the case and approval is more likely if a KRA is in place.
In essence the State, under the guise of flagging resources for future use, is via the current KRA process, taking existing property rights from owners and depreciating the value of their land with no compensation while simultaneously passing wealth to the individual or company resource site owners. Sheriff of Nottingham stuff!
The same issues as before are stll relevant - and more so because there are planned to be 5 KRAs in Scenic Rim. Far from being a natural environment visually and emotionally appealing the area will be marred by dust noise and increased road traffic pollution.
The threat of Quarry Central is hanging over the Scenic Rim unless the Scenic Rim Regional Council is prepared to stand with residents and fight for the community-expressed vision for a future based on agriculture, tourism and compatible development. QAG is seeking urgent meetings with Mr Jon Krause, MP, and the Scenic Rim Council.
The five areas cited by the State Government for designation as KRAs are:
- Cryna, an existing quarry recently given approval by the SRRC to nearly treble its output, five kilometres south of Beaudesert.
- Markwell Creek Road (greenfield site) eight kilometres south of Beaudesert.
- Erin View, Kerry (greenfield site) 12 kilometres south of Beaudesert.
- Kangaroo Mountain, four kilometres north of Aratula.
- Yore Road, three kilometres north of Tamborine Village
The immediate impact of a KRA designation on a site, regardless of whether it was ever developed, would very likely be to drive down surrounding land values and restrict the use options of neighbouring properties caught in buffer zones. Separartion areas or buffer zones will surround the quarry area and also along transport corridors. This is not land owned by the quarry site but will restrict what can happen on that land.
These KRAs are part of the planning and background documents for the state's new approach which means that a single state planning policy has been developed to replace the multiple policies in existence.The draft State Planning Policy (draft SPP) ( 1.5 MB) sets out policies on matters of state interest in relation to planning and development, and provides a key framework for the government's broader commitment to planning reform.
KRAs are just one 'policy' to be included in SINGLE POLICY to
The Kerry Quarry - SRRC rejected in 2012 - has been proposed as the Erin View Key Resource Area ( KRA 140) in addition to several other quarry KRAs for the SRRC and Logan City council areas, including: Markwell Creek Rd KRA 142, Cryna KRA 139, Yore Road KRA 143 ( 3 km south of Clutha Creek KRA), Kangaroo Mountain KRA 141 ( north of Aratuala in habitat containing at least 3 essential habitat factors for the koala). See attached map of 3 KRAs of Erin View, Markwell Creek and Cryna.
If an area is set aside as a KRA it - does not give automatic approval rights - it recognises a state or regional resource -it may limit or restrict what neighbouring property owners can do on their land ( eg in separation zones and buffers around the KRA itself and transport corridors) - does not take into account amenity impacts or transport impacts that may occur from the designation of a KRA - the KRAs should have had significant biodiversity, ecological, conservation, cultural heritage and indigenous values assessed as part of the process for defining the boundaries of a KRA - has this been done? Not in the original MCU application for Kerry Quarry.
Concerns already raised by the Kerry community about the proposed Erin View and Markwell KRAs include -
1. SRRC previously received over 1000 objections from the community for the Kerry Quarry - this MCU ( Material change of Use ) was not approved by SRRC in 2011/12.
Thecommunity is asking for SRRC to continue to support community and to
say no to this state government draft.
2. Residents and QAGQuarry Action Group have approached some SRRC councillors - the councillors are saying this is not a local government matter , but a state govt matter. If this is designated a KRA, then SRRC will be responsible for placing conditions on the development. Previous experience with Cryna and Clutha Creek Sands Quarries, is that councils do not follow up conditions, or the applicant can apply for reduced conditions. This has been the case with Cryna Quarry. 3. SRRC will be putting in their own submission - local SRRC councillors have said if Kerry Quarry had been a Key Resource Area, the quarry would have been approved last year 4. Transport and haulage routes and impacts on local roads and Beaudesert Township 5. One haulage route being proposed via Markwell Creek with topography that is not suited to truck haulage ( see map attached of KRAs with spearation areas and trans routes) 6. Impact on tourist area (e.g. Kerry) but other areas of Beaudesert may be affected as well 7. Ecological assessment for Kerry Quarry MCU ( Material change of Use) was never done 8. Cultural heritage assessment was never done for Kerry Quarry MCU 9. Concerns that other quarries proposed and extent of area proposed has not been revealed to rest of community 10. Community not advised by SRRC that this was taking place, despite SRRC knowing that the community clearly opposed the Kerry Quarry proposal
The Logan River/Larry Storey Park Clean-up has been rescheduled to
8am - 11.30am on
Sunday 24 March 2013
and YOU ARE INVITED TO JOIN US for the cleanup. Long range forecasts indicate the weather should be kinder for boats, canoes, kayaks and people, so hopefully we will enjoy a productive morning in the park and on the Logan River. Please advise if you will be joining us, so we can ensure we have enough gloves, collection bags plus mugs for tea/coffee etc. You will also need sunscreen & hat, sturdy footwear & leg protection (eg long pants in the park) plus water and snacks to keep you going. Registration for this Clean-up site can still be made HERE
Co-ordinator for this event is Paul Casbolt m: 0428 325 275.
LACA and Greater Logan Canoe Club are collaborating on this great cleanup day and we are sponsored by Healthy Waterways.
The Healthy Waterways Clean Up crews remove over250,000 items of litter from our waterways each year.The crews consist of two people in one of two tinnies (small metal boats). They collect floating litter and, in accessible areas, pick up litter from riverbanks and from within mangroves.
This is an incredible amount of litter - mostly plastic bottles bags and bits - that we as rate payers pay to have someone pick up our rubbish.
Why do we litter our home? How can we change and put those $$$$$$$ to better use?
If we trash it costs us cash!
Lets make Logan the cleanest River in Australia! No rubbish dumped.
Preventing sediment is another story.
See you all Sunday on or near the river.
Logan River is one of our greatest natural resources. Lets make it a great spot to visit!
People who love our country are being asked to take deliberate steps and actions to restrict inappropriate coal and gas mining. An astounding 437 million hectares of our land is covered by coal and gas licences or applications. That's more than half of Australia and an area 18 times the size of Great Britain.
Even our greatest international tourist icons are not safe, with at least 11 of our 16 National Landscapes at threat.
LOCK THE GATE has united farmers, first peoples, conservationists - ordinary folk who believe our country is too precious to be exploited for the profits of big business who bank off shore. View the website. http://www.lockthegate.org.au/calltocountry.
FREE SCREENING OF BAG IT - Is your life too plastic
6.30 pm Thursday 21 February
Logan Village State School Hall 25 -39 North Street Logan Village
Waterway litter, particularly plastics, pose a serious threat to our turtles and other marine wildlife. Current research shows that up to 30% of turtle deaths in Moreton Bay are caused by the ingestion of plastic litter.
Healthy Waterways Clean Up crew collect over 250,000 items of floating litter from South East Queensland's waterways every year.
LACA VETO and Greater Logan Canoe Club - supported by HEALTHY WATERWAYS are showing this film to launch our local Logan Plastic Pollution Revolution.
Come along, watch film learn more about why and what we all care about.
Logan River is one of our city's greatest natural treasures.
We do not want it to be a drain carrying plastic - or any litter - down to
Moreton Bay where these bits - that NEVER BIODEGRADE - will harm marine life.
Floating human litter and other carelessly discarded items also reduce our human pleasure in river related activities.
You are also invited to take part in our CLEANUP AUSTRALIA DAY - RIVER CLEANUP on Sunday 3 March at Larry Storey Park Waterford.
There is no waste within the natural world unless we consider what humans have wasted. Nature recycles everything – even water - so that everything contributes to the overall benefit and survival of eath's natural system.
By comparison, many of us discard potential resources carelessly because we no longer value them for ourselves. These potential resources often end up in the waste stream. In the recent past we may have been very keen to buy the products which having served their original purpose are thrown away.
No other species creates such waste as humans do .
Unfortunately in our haste for a fast convenient lifestye some products that we produce - mostly from by products of the fossil fuel industry - may survive for a very long time in the environment and take up space on land or water which could be better used. Within the natural world a clever closed loop system has many organisms benefiting as items are returned to the soil or earth. Waste is a major global problem as we try to cope with items tossed away. Even some food which we need to sustain us is considered as waste instead of a beneficial resource. No food needs to be regarded as a disposable commodity to end up in landfill. Spoiled food is valuable to return nutrients to the earth and there are many ways to achieve this such as worm farming and composting. Food waste is a complex challenge at all levels in all countries. This Guardian article raises some issues
Meet Alex Harris at Berrinba Sanctuary open day 15 December 2012.
If you are new to becoming engaged in helping to save Australia's iconic koala you may not yet know the name. She is responsible for developing an amazing online website and tool to allow citizen scientists all over Australia to record their sightings. Come along to Berrinba Sanctuary open day 15 December 2012 and meet her and hear first hand about Koalatracker which is Australia's first national crowdsourced koala map.
This amazing tool has been provided for us all to use. So lets all become KoalaTrackers so we can report koala sightings, view the koala map, view member photo galleries, use resources and search the database to learn more about koalas in our area and more.
CLICK HERE OR ON IMAGE ABOVE TO GO TO THE WEBSITE. Also provided there are phone numbers for sick or injured koalas.
Our environment and the laws that protect it are under attack like never before. If environment protection were left to the states, they would have dammed the Franklin River, put oil rigs in the Great Barrier Reef and built Traveston Dam.
Big business leaders hijacked a meeting of state and federal governments COAG earlier this year and what they demanded weakens Australia's environment laws. Inexplicably the Prime Minister acquiesced - perhaps to get acceptance for another item on agenda?
This December 7, when state Premiers and Prime Minister meet again at COAG the plan is to take the next step to gut Australia's environment laws before final sign off at a meeting in March 2013 and hand power over to the states.
Before this happens, tell the Labor and Liberal parties not to gut Australia's environment laws. Here is a letter you must personalise with your details and perhaps add / delete comments.