Apr 29, 2019

Media Release – A Shorten Labor Government will clean up the Cooks River – Monday, 29 April 2019

Cleaning up the Cooks River would be a priority project under a Shorten Labor Government’s Urban Rivers and Corridors Program, and funding will be made available for community groups who work to protect the river to continue their good work.

This election will be a choice between a Shorten Labor Government with a plan for the environment, or more of the Liberals’ cuts and chaos.

Shadow Environment Minister Tony Burke said Labor had committed $200 million to bring urban waterways and habitat corridors back to health.

“Through the Urban Rivers and Corridors Program, a Shorten Labor Government will restore urban rivers across the country to their natural beauty,” Mr Burke said.

“Labor’s investment will unlock grant funding for projects to clean up our rivers including revegetation, tree planting, waste capture and naturalisation projects.

“For too long, our rivers, creeks and wetlands have been treated like storm water drains, ending up polluted, dirty and littered with shopping trolleys rather than being safe spaces for families, kids and school groups to visit.

“This investment from Labor provides a wonderful opportunity to clean up the Cooks River. For those who live along or near the river this is a wonderful gift to bring the river back to its natural beauty and provide a wonderful recreational area for locals to enjoy,” The Member for Barton, Ms Burney said.

The Member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese said Labor was determined to transform polluted waterways into community assets.

“The Cooks River should be a sanctuary in our community where families and children can enjoy clean water, parks and diverse wildlife,’ Mr Albanese said.

“Labor is committed to working with local people along the catchment to rehabilitate the River.”

Labor will engage state and local governments, local councils, community groups and local environmental organisations to bring urban waterways and habitat corridors back to health.

Labor’s $200 million investment will unlock grant funding for projects to clean up our rivers including:

  • Building wetlands to capture, clean and filter stormwater.
  • Revegetation and tree planting along corridors.
  • Citizen science and education programs along creeks and corridors, including bush kinder.
  • Bird boxes and waste capture.
  • Employment of Indigenous Rangers.
  • Turning urban waterways back into creeks and rivers again through changing hard surfaces back to natural surfaces, for example, cement surfaces turned back to river banks.

The Cooks River is full of rubbish and despite council intervention, more needs to be done. A large amount of the ocean plastics which are causing extraordinary damage to marine life and seabirds come directly from urban rivers. Priorities for the site include:

  • Naturalisation of concreted river banks to stop contaminants flowing into the River.
  • Installation of rain gardens along the river catchment as a key element of environmentally sensitive urban design.
  • Increase in the number of gross pollutant traps to prevent rubbish and recyclable material from entering the River.

Labor’s commitment to cleaning up urban rivers is part of a broader strategy to restore our oceans to health, including restoring Australia’s Marine Parks and tackling waste and plastics.

Labor has committed to undoing the massive cuts to Australia’s Marine Parks. Our environment is buckling from the pressure of climate change, pollution, waste and destruction of natural areas.

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has consistently failed to provide federal environment programs that adequately address the urgent need for urban river rehabilitation.

Only Labor is serious about protecting the environment and making sure it’s there for future generations to enjoy – action on climate change, investing in the environment, and maintaining Australia’s status as the ‘great outdoors’.

These policies and projects will form part of a comprehensive platform for a healthier environment in our cities and across Australia.

Being nominated as a priority project means the Cooks River will receive funding for environmental works after an assessment by the environment department.