LEAN had a huge and successful conference, not to mention a fun one.
We ran three great Fringe events - on the future jobs in forestry in a carbon constrained world, what an Australian version of an Inflation Reduction Act would look like, and celebrating Labor’s environmental legacy with an eye to the future. Thanks Ministers Plibersek and Bowen for joining us and to the ETU, Smart Energy Council, ACF and the Queensland Conservation Council for collaborating with us.
We arrived at the ALP National Conference in Brisbane last week with the backing of 369 local branches (see the list here) and the “green army”, of over 60 LEAN members in green T-shirts, visible all over the event - both as delegates and advocates. Once again LEAN showed itself a powerhouse of environmental concern and commitment from the party’s rank and file. Thank you to all the volunteers - you made a huge impact.
These are the outcomes from the Conference debates, now reflected in the National Policy Platform:
A new National Forest Policy Statement before the next election.
What does this mean? Will it end native forest logging? Forests and forestry in Australia are managed under the National Forest Policy Statement written by the Keating Government in 1992. The policy’s approach was to protect parts of the native forest estate for biodiversity and open the rest up to logging, providing long term timber contracts for industry. This carve up was reflected in the Regional Forest Agreements, which many will know are driving extinctions and causing huge industry problems as due to over-cutting, the wood supply contracts prove impossible to deliver.
Let’s face it, what other area of public policy has not been updated in 30 years?! Because of all the conflict around forestry, governments have avoided revisiting this failed policy. But because of our campaign, all that will change.
The new Platform commits us to a New National Forest Policy Statement, with Minister Watt promising this would happen in this term of government. The platform says the policy process will consider the biodiversity and carbon values of forests and ensure they are rewarded. It also commits to creating a plantation-based industry plan to maximize jobs and regional opportunity in high value engineered timber products. The Platform commits Labor to ensuring the application of new National Environmental Standards to Australia’s native forests - these are the new standards for protection of threatened species that Minister Plibersek is developing. With these three ingredients we are confident that not only will native forest logging end but regional timber workers will be given a positive future - managing existing forests for carbon and building a world class plantation timber industry.
We do have more work to do to ensure the policy process is robust. So we will need you to keep educating your communities on the changes underway and keep the pressure on your state ministers and parliamentarians to engage constructively with the reforms.
Land Sector Industry for regional Australia
The Platform commits Labor to creating a land sector industry that protects the highest carbon and biodiversity landscapes and creates regional jobs and opportunity.
The Platform acknowledges the climate change impacts of our globally significant rates of land clearing and commits Labor to ending deforestation, “halting and reversing forest loss and land degradation by 2030”.
Methane emission reductions in the Ag Sector
The Platform commits the Government to work with the agricultural industry to reduce methane emissions, including through setting up large scale trials to identify the best methane reducing technologies and financial reward for farmers for emission reductions through better management of livestock burping and farting.
Australia’s response to the Inflation Reduction Act
Decarbonisation is the biggest economic transformation since the industrial revolution. The US and Europe have both committed huge investments to super-charge the shift to a low carbon future, while ensuring jobs and opportunity are built on the way. The US Inflation Reduction Act provides tax-breaks, subsidy and procurement incentives to support renewable energy and the creation of the low carbon industries renewable energy can create.
LEAN worked with key unions, the ETU, the AMWU and the AWU to ensure the ALP Policy Platform commits the Labor Government to building a transition that leaves no one behind, delivers cheaper and cleaner energy and creates manufacturing, opportunity and jobs.
National Environment Commission before the next election
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has heard our call for a National Environment Commission! The National Environment Commission would provide the independent policy expertise and advice sorely lacking in environment policy, as well as conduct public inquiries to get stakeholders working together to solve the overwhelming ecological problems before us. This is the perfect big ticket election commitment for our next term of Government and we look forward to working with the Minister to deliver it! Minister Plibersek said on the floor:
“Following the delivery of our ambitious first term environment law reform agenda, I commit to taking stock, to seeing what more might need to be done. When I do so, I will look carefully at LEAN’s proposal for a National Environment Commission, as well as other ideas.”
A recognition of ecological limits
For the first time, the ALP Policy Platform backs the need for the economy to work within ecological limits, with consideration of climate and biodiversity impacts. This commitment was inserted in the introduction to the economics chapter, an important recognition!
Lake Eyre Basin, Toondah Harbour, Ningaloo Reef.
LEAN activists ensured the Conference backed action on some of our most iconic places including Lake Eyre Basin, Toondah Harbour and Ningaloo Reef.
Gas and Carbon, Capture and Storage
In the leadup to Conference, LEAN worked with relevant Ministers and unions to deliver better words on gas and CCS. The Platform no longer endorses new gas fields and acknowledges gas as a powerful GHG pollutant. On CCS the Platform is agnostic, recognising it may help in hard to abate industries like cement but removes any suggestion of government subsidy for the technology.
Read the exact wording for the platform and of the resolutions here.
LEAN also spoke in the AUKUS debate to represent our members' concerns about nuclear power and propulsion.
We will add transcripts and videos of speeches and other Conference reference material over coming days.