Sep 12, 2005

Our cities deserve better than Howard’s neglect

Our cities deserve better than Howard’s neglect

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP, and

SENATOR KIM CARR – Shadow Minister for Housing, Urban Development, Local Government and Territories

12 September 2005

The Shadow Minister for the Environment, Anthony Albanese said, “The Federal Government is ignoring and neglecting Australia’s cities. That’s the key message from the bi-partisan Report into the health of our cities released today”.

The Shadow Minister for Urban Development, Senator Kim Carr said, “Australia’s cities have problems that are crying out for a national solution. National leadership is sorely needed to make Australia’s cities healthier and better places to live.”

“John Howard is our very own Rip van Winkle. His Government has been asleep for nine long years while our cities’ infrastructure has run down. There’s no national strategy for our cities, no Better Cities program, no real infrastructure support.”

Anthony Albanese said, “The bi-partisan House of Representatives Environment Committee has urged the Howard Government to play a leadership role in restoring the health of our cities.

Australia’s cities are running out of water. Power blackouts have occurred in Perth. Adelaide is seeing the effects of a dying Murray River. Nationwide our infrastructure is crumbling and nearly all the measures of environmental health are going backwards.”

Labor welcomes the Committee report which provides an important roadmap for our cities’ environmental future and some strong recommendations for institutional reform.

Anthony Albanese said, “Unfortunately, the Government controlled committee has failed, however, to recognise the dramatic impact climate change will have on our cities. The Committee did not address Australia’s soaring greenhouse pollution.

The Government’s own Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability report estimated Australia could be 2ºC hotter by 2030, which would devastate our cities, with more intense cyclones, more heatwaves and bushfires and reduced rainfall in southern cities.

The possibility that climate change contributed to the intensity of Hurricane Katrina should make alarm bells ring.

The ALP welcomes the Committee’s recommendations for an Australian Sustainability Charter that sets national targets for environmental health, including water, energy and transport, and an independent Sustainability Commission to monitor the performance of government against these targets.

These are important recommendations, which will be closely examined by Labor as we develop our policies in the lead up to the next election.