Greens’ Climate Change Bill is a chance for Baird to show leadership ahead of Paris

Climate change legislation introduced into NSW Parliament today challenges the NSW Premier to show the climate leadership that is lacking in Australian politics, says the Greens’ Jan Barham MLC.

“I’ve introduced legislation that would commit current and future governments in New South Wales to strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change,” Ms Barham said.

The Greens’ Climate Change Bill 2015 sets an emissions reduction target of net zero emissions by 2040, consistent with the level of action needed to limit global warming and avoid the most dangerous impacts.

The legislation requires governments to develop four-year plans for emissions reductions and climate change adaptation, and ensures that every department and council takes action consistent with addressing climate change, with legal action possible to prevent decisions and actions that would undermine the state’s action on climate change.

“This legislation is about the fundamental issue of getting all parties to agree that every government – current and future; federal, state and local – has a responsibility to their citizens and to future generations to address climate change,” Ms Barham said.

“Mike Baird can change the conversation by acknowledging that our state can make the transition away from fossil fuels and toward a zero emissions future, consistent with international agreements and the scientific evidence.”

Ms Barham also noted that a NSW Government submission to the federal consultation on post-2020 emissions targets, obtained under freedom of information laws, showed the importance of addressing climate change for the future of the state.

“The NSW Government’s own analysis recognised that without significant emissions cuts, climate change will have very significant impacts on farming, tourism, on communities across the state and on human health and emergency services.

“Despite knowing about the growing risks of climate change for more than 25 years, too many governments have squandered their opportunities to act. Continuing with weak national targets will increase the threat to future generations unless the states take responsibility to act now.

“Malcolm Turnbull has committed to maintain the weak and ineffective policies of his predecessor. As it stands, Australia will be seen as a developed country that does not have the courage to make decisions in the best interests of its citizens.

“Around the world, sub-national governments are stepping up to make a significant contribution on climate change and a Compact of States and Regions has been established. This Bill presents the opportunity for innovation, and to ensure the health and wellbeing of the environment and the people as we prepare for an uncertain future.

“It is the fundamental responsibility of Government to prepare for threats to the welfare of their citizens. I’m calling on all parties to support this legislation that will lock in a plan for meeting that responsibility,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

BACKGROUND:

Labor’s Lot 490 proposal shows outrageous disregard for Aboriginal land claim

The Labor Party has undermined Aboriginal Land Rights in the Tweed by introducing legislation that would affect a land claim, says North Coast Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs and Crown Lands, Jan Barham MLC.

Ms Barham’s comments follow the introduction into NSW Parliament by Labor’s Walt Secord MLC of a Bill that would reserve Lot 490 as a regional park.

“This significant and environmentally sensitive area is currently protected from development by Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council’s land claim, which is one of thousands across the state waiting to be finalised. The legislation introduced by NSW Labor shows no regard for the importance of that claim,” Ms Barham said.

“Any announcement on the end use of the land is premature, and it undermines the intent of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act to provide self-determination and compensation for the traditional owners and custodians of the land.

“A recent public land forum I hosted in the Tweed heard from Tweed Byron Land Council’s Leweena Williams and local conservationists about the ecological significance of Lot 490.

“It’s important to note that Aboriginal land claims can include conditions such as easements for public access to areas such as the beach. Once a land claim is granted, the Government can also negotiate for the reservation or dedication of lands for the purpose of nature conservation.

“Labor has disregarded the fundamental importance of Aboriginal land rights and the need for self-determination and negotiation with the Aboriginal community. This Bill mustn’t proceed until the land claim has been determined, and I call on the Government to ensure the claim is resolved as quickly as possible.

“I have continued to press the Government to clear the backlog of unresolved Aboriginal land claims. The Greens strongly support Aboriginal land rights and the need to prioritise Aboriginal communities’ ownership and custodianship of land.”

Ms Barham noted that Lot 490 had a long history of being earmarked for development by both local and state governments and called for the importance of both the Aboriginal land claim and the environmental and cultural values of the site to be respected.

“The Greens recognise the strong community support for ensuring the land is protected from inappropriate private development and we know how important it is that the area’s threatened species and biodiversity are protected.

“It was Labor’s Tony Kelly who removed Tweed Shire Council as trustees of the Crown reserve in 2004 and then proposed leasing the site for a major development by Leighton Holdings, which thankfully fell through.

“For Labor to claim that they are the environmental protectors of the Tweed defies belief, and for them to undermine Aboriginal land rights in the process is disgraceful,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891