May 5, 2006

The challenge of coastal growth needs national leadership

The challenge of coastal growth needs national leadership

MEDIA RELEASE – Anthony Albanese MP

Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage

Shadow Minister for Water, and

Jennie George MP

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Heritage

Australians live and relax on the coast, but population pressure and climate change are major challenges to our coastal lifestyle.

Today, Labor called for national leadership on coastal protection with the release of a comprehensive discussion paper, Meeting the Challenge of Coastal Growth.

Right around Australia, we’re seeing a sea change phenomenon with people shifting to coastal areas outside our capital cities. The sea change phenomenon brings many benefits, but also real economic, social and environmental challenges.

Our environment is under enormous pressure. Coastal growth can lead to habitat loss, damage to wetlands, the introduction of pests and weeds and coastal erosion.

The Howard Government promised in 2001 to “develop a new national coastal policy to address coastal management issues”. Five years later, the coastal policy hasn’t been sighted. Presumably it’s lost at sea.

On 24 July 2005, the Environment Minister stated he wanted to introduce a 30 year plan to protect the endangered coast from being “loved to death”. He hasn’t produced a single word to back up his rhetoric.

Howard Government complacency means Australia is unprepared for the challenges of coastal growth and climate change. All we’ve had is hollow promises.

Labor will work with State and local governments to ensure high quality coastal planning. Labor will help Australia avoid dangerous climate change. Labor will develop a National Sustainability Charter with targets for Australia’s environmental, social and economic sustainability, including coastal protection.

Labor will consider legislating for biodiversity ‘hotspots’ to ensure significant environmental impacts on coastal areas would need approval from the Federal Environment Minister.

Labor will ensure our children and grandchildren can enjoy the coast as much as we do today.