With the State election of 23 March out of the way, the fight for our marginal Federal seat of Gilmore will begin in earnest.
Following the parachuting in of Warren Mundine to stand for the Liberals, the latest contender for the seat is the National’s Katrina Hodgkinson (see our next edition for an interview with her).
Labor’s Fiona Phillips has been campaigning since her narrow defeat in the last election, with Tony Burke the latest Labor heavyweight to visit the area to support her campaign.
The Shadow Minister for Environment and Water; Citizenship and Multicultural Australia; and the Arts visited Kiama to promote Labor’s Clean Our Oceans program, which aims to reduce the use of single use plastic water bottles.
As part of this program, Surf Life Saving Clubs’ nippers across the country will be given reusable water bottles, and water refill stations will be installed at up to 600 beaches.
“Those clubs are raising people to be passionate about the beach,” says Mr Burke.
“We want these kids to be ambassadors for keeping our beaches plastic free.”
The program is one element of Labor’s yet to be fully released environment policy.
“The big shift will be establishing an Environment Protection Agency,” says
“There has been no consistency of decision making.
“Environmental decisions don’t have any teeth behind them but are left to ministerial discretion.
“Management plans and recovery plans for endangered species are effectively voluntary as they can’t be enforced.
“We need to have an independent body to apply the rules.”
He gives as an example a large number of threatened species recommendations that have yet to make it past the Minister’s desk. The new Agency would be responsible for approving these.
“We want to help manage the environment, not just regulate it.”