Green-washed Plan Pure Hypocrisy

South West MLC Diane Evers has flagged hypocrisies in the McGowan Government’s Green Jobs Plan, with taxpayer dollars earmarked for conservation while swathes of Western Australian environment is destroyed elsewhere.

Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) spokesperson for forests and jobs, said she welcomed environmental investment from the State Government but that it would continue to be soured so long as tens of thousands of hectares of native forests are logged.

Monday’s announcement of the $60.3 million Green Jobs Plan indicated over 1,000 jobs will be created in conservation, with Environment Minister Stephen Dawson highlighting the WA environment’s “precious assets”.

However, Ms Evers said it was rank hypocrisy for the State Government to spend on conservation while it propped up a dying native logging industry and allowed bauxite mining to devastate Jarrah forests.

42,500ha of native forests has been set aside for logging operations in 2020, with around 16.6 per cent to be cut for low-value timber milling enabled by the Forest Products Commission and mining expansion by Alcoa the biggest culprits.

Ms Evers also expressed concerns at the Premier’s eagerness for conservation and management of the environment to be used as a tool to accelerate development projects.

QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:

“A government that talks ‘green’ on one hand while facilitating the environmental vandalism of our land through native forest logging and mining devastation in our backyard must be called out for its hypocrisy.

“WA Labor says supporting green jobs makes sense and advocates caring for native vegetation, so why does it continue to log native forests?

“With 7,500ha of native forest scheduled to be lost this year alone, this Plan seems like the Government wants credit for cleaning up its own mess.

“It has been demonstrated in Victoria that an immediate end to native logging would save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, so any genuine investment from WA Labor in environmental management must include full protection of these ‘precious assets’.

“Right now, the WA Labor Green Jobs Plan lacks substance and feels more like an example of greenwashing, particularly given the Premier’s inability to talk about conservation without bringing development into the conversation.

“I encourage WA Labor to continue taking cues from the Australian Greens, who released its Economic Recovery Plan months ago.

“But as long as Premier McGowan cosies up to corporate donors in the resource sector and is complicit in propping up a zombified native logging industry, these efforts will remain undermined by the sunk cost of environmental vandalism.

GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070

Call for Helms Halt as Forest Protectors Rally

South West Greens MLC Diane Evers has issued a rallying call to South West forest protectors after the Forest Products Commission (FPC) signalled plans to begin logging Helms forest this week.

The native Jarrah forest has been defended through direct action as recently as March of this year, with threats to local fauna compounding the ongoing environmental vandalism of native forests by the FPC as it continues to log largely for smelter-use charcoal.

Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) spokesperson for forests, highlighted the importance of the federally recognised International Bird Area as habitat, as well as concerns for the spread of dieback as a result of logging operations.

The native forest supports endangered Black Cockatoos, including those rehabilitated and released into the area from the neighbouring Jamarri Rehabilitation Centre, until its closure earlier this year.

Ms Evers visited a forest blockade at the site on Sunday, July 19, which has been established in response to the logging announcement by FPC.

A significant response in support from the South West community is expected, as outrage continues to grow about a logging regime that destroys high conservation value forests.

QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:

“Helms forest is under threat and our native forests won’t be secure until we repeal the Forest Products Act.

“I visited the Helms blockade on Sunday and remain buoyed by the fact that there is such a strong human response to the vandalism of our precious South West environment, with people activated to respond time and time again to this morally repugnant logging regime.

“Losing this beloved jarrah forest as a result of ongoing destruction by the Forest Products Commission will result in reduced habitat and will continue to aggravate our extinction crisis.

“At risk are Red-tailed, Carnaby’s and Baudin’s cockatoos, which have been rehabilitated nearby and released into Helms forest, where they live and breed.

“A further serious concern is the presence of dieback and the risk that this infestation could be spread further in the event of unnecessary logging practices.

“I’m asking the ever-growing community of South West forest protectors to call and email the Minister for Forestry and let him know that Helms must be protected.

“Native forests need to be protected so we maintain biodiversity, tackle climate change and ensure these precious forests are there for all to enjoy for generations to come. 

“We need to let the Ministers for Forestry, Environment, and Regional Development know that there is no social license for this destruction and we must demand an end to native forest logging.”

GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070

Temperature Rising as Calls for a Burning Review Grow

WA Greens MLC Diane Evers has endorsed a statement by the recently established Denmark Fire Study Group (DFSG) calling on the WA Government to review its current prescribed burning practices.

Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) spokesperson for forestry, has endorsed a statement representing community and organisational stakeholders and said the DFSG will reflect concerns she has listened to for years from environmentalists in the region.

The statement backed by Ms Evers has received 18 endorsements to date, with a further 22 endorsements from the scientific community supporting a second statement. 

The DFSG plans to present the two statements to Premier Mark McGowan next month, with Ms Evers also intending to table a petition in Parliament on behalf of the group.

An online petition calling for a review into prescribed burning practices, set up by the Denmark Environment Centre, has also received nearly 2,000 signatures to date.

Ms Evers recently read a letter in State Parliament from DFSG member Bart Lebbing to the Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, which detailed the group’s concerns about the unsustainable environmental impact of current burning practices.

Those interested in supporting the DFSG’s call to the McGowan Government can get in touch by contacting the Denmark Fire Study Group on 0477 269 295 or emailing at  firestudydenmark@gmail.com.

QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:

“As the devastating 2019/20 bushfires demonstrated, we need to know more about the cumulative impact of logging and prescribed burning in our forests.

“I have called in the past for a thorough review of bushfire mitigation practices in Western Australia and admire the commitment shown by the Denmark Fire Study Group to drive grassroots action for change.

“Recent work by the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires’ Dr Philip Zylstra has indicated that, in Australian forests studied to date, prescribed burning increases fire risk in the medium-to-long term.

“Despite ongoing research on similar impacts in Western Australian forests, the McGowan Government is currently adhering to a broad-brush burning policy that destroys vast areas of land at high temperatures.

“We must abandon annual burning targets and instead focus on strategic planning around towns and infrastructure alongside investment in research into the implementation of early detection and rapid suppression of bushfires before they develop into wildfires.

“Indigenous custodians of the land used the practice of small mosaic-style burning at cool temperatures to manage the land for tens of thousands of years, I believe there is so much more we can learn from these methods with regard to contemporary bushfire mitigation.

“I’m encouraged that a number of community, environmental and scientific stakeholders will join me in endorsing the DFSG’s statements and I plan to table a petition in Parliament on the group’s behalf next month.” 

KEY STATEMENT POINTS:

  • Remove the prescribed burning target for the Forest Management Plan area of the South West and adopt alternative approaches for protection from wildfires that are less detrimental to our environment
  • Support research and implementation of early detection and rapid suppression of bushfires before they develop into wildfires.
  • Increase support for research and monitoring of the ecological impacts of prescribed burning and wildfires.
  • Encourage research into cost efficiency and effectiveness of broad-scale prescribed burning, comparing it to selective, risk assessed, strategic mitigation activities close to infrastructure and implement recommendations.
  • End broad-scale prescribed burning in the conservation estate distant from towns with land management focused on ecological objectives to conserve and protect the unique flora and fauna within these hotspots of biodiversity.
  • Designate non-transferable Fire Exclusion Reference Areas (FERA) of significant size in all vegetation types, to enable the study of the impact of fire on biodiversity and the health and long-term viability of flora and fauna.

GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070

EversGreen: July ’20

Click here for a full web version of this newsletter.

As we embark on phase four easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Western Australia, we are cautiously approaching a new normal and I wish everybody the best during this transition. This new normal allows for a greater focus on community and environmental issues. I will continue doing all I can to represent the voices of the South West Region as we work towards a post-COVID recovery that rebuilds our future.

A major and ongoing issue in our South West forests relates to water rights, with the unfair and inequitable Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme rearing its ugly head once more in June. My thoughts remain with this already-long and painful community fight to save the Donnelly River. To stop the SFIS I need your help. You can read more about last month’s developments in this newsletter and sign up for our campaign to Stop The SFIS.

As I seek to remain connected to regional communities with upcoming regional visits and the continued fight to speak out for what matters, I’m delighted that my Regional Regeneration Facebook group continues to grow. At the time of writing, we have surpassed 300 members, coming together to discuss ideas about how to drive positive change in regional WA. If you haven’t yet joined, please feel welcome and invite your networks. This online community allows for an opportunity to share knowledge and I do hope you’ll join us as we hold important discussions about what affects us and work towards realising not just a new normal, but a better normal for our regional communities.

There are so many issues that affect us at global, national and local levels, such as environmental destruction, the need for new approaches to land management, impacts of housing stress, and the preservation of human rights. I am encouraged that so many people remain engaged with these matters and provide hopeful energy for parliamentarians like myself to represent them.

Diane

SOUTHERN FORESTS IRRIGATION SCHEME: Help Save the Donnelly

I have been painfully reminded in the past month of the inequity and unfairness motivating the community fight to stop the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme. This battle against the SFIS has already been long and painful, with the Donnelly River at risk from an inequitable water trading scheme that is 85 percent funded by taxpayers but locks out 85 percent of farming businesses. 302ha of good forest is going to be destroyed due to the SFIS, with 160ha inundated and 142ha cleared for pipelines.

My office became aware of approved drill testing occurring for this scheme during June, with significant community concern that these works were undertaken without the required hygiene controls to prevent the spread of dieback. I brought this matter to the attention of Environment Minister Stephen Dawson and the Regional Development Minister Allanah MacTiernan during parliament sitting weeks and called for the State Government to suspend such testing until the pending Environmental Protection Authority assessment is completed later this year. These current actions are akin to the previous government moving ahead with clearing land for Roe 8: unnecessary carnage for a road that was never built.

We need to ensure the public awareness and governmental pressure is increased. The SFIS must be stopped. We must not sell water from the Donnelly and we must protect catchment farmers. I encourage you to stay updated with our campaign to support impacted local communities and to help us Stop The SFIS.

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FIGHT FOR OUR FORESTS: Email the Ministers

The current native forests logging regime is destroying our biodiversity hotspots in the middle of a climate and extinction crisis. Logging our native forests not only destroys critical ecosystems but also hampers the development of higher value, sustainable industries such as tourism and honey production, as well as ignoring the value in Noongar cultural and educational practices.

By continuing the operations of the Forest Products Commission, WA Labor and the Liberals are propping up an unprofitable and destructive native forestry industry, frustrating our transition to a truly sustainable timber industry.

This is why I am calling on the WA Labor Government to repeal the Forest Products Act and protect our native forests — and am calling on you to support me by emailing the Ministers for Forestry, Environment and Regional Development to demand an end to the destruction of our state’s remaining native forests.

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HOUSING STRESS: Stimulus Steps Not Enough

Homelessness and housing stress in regional Western Australia is in a crisis, with the waiting list close to a decade in some places. While I welcomed the McGowan Government’s Social Housing Economic Recovery package as a necessary step for regional public housing and an increase in job creation, those measures did not go far enough to address long regional waitlists for accommodation.

I spoke in Parliament last month about homelessness in regional areas, something that concerns me greatly. In regional Western Australia, one in 10 women have experienced homelessness at some time in the past five years. This is unacceptable. Currently, there are 700 women on the public housing waitlist in the South West Region alone. In the Augusta-Margaret River area, there are 78 public housing dwellings, but, unfortunately, this is not enough.

In a region where there is up to a 10-year waitlist for public housing and housing is unaffordable for 63 per cent of residents, there are much-needed South West organisations such as Just Home Margaret River providing housing advocacy to vulnerable or disadvantaged members of the community, and they need support. I ask that in this wealthy state, the government does much more to help vulnerable people experiencing homelessness, particularly in the regions where social support services are often hard to come by.

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INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS AND CIVIL RIGHTS: Community Rallies for First Nations Voices

Few issues are more important than the continuing racial injustice in our country. Tragically, cultural and civil rights have been entwined with environmental catastrophe as a consequence of the wanton destruction of two 46,000-year-old culturally significant caves at Juukan Gorge in late May. In response, during June I stood with our First Nations people to rally outside the Perth offices of Rio Tinto in protest against this cultural vandalism.

I also attended the Perth Black Lives Matter rally days later, which drew thousands to Langley Park to harness global energy to address issues that directly affect First Nations people here in Australia. My WA Greens colleagues and I have worked to ensure these matters are raised in State Parliament and First Nations voices are heard, as ongoing struggles with systematic abuse, incarceration, marginalisation, and disenfranchisement from their culture and histories continues.

Subsequently, in Parliament I have sought to ensure a simple truth of civil rights was placed on the record. Black and First Nations peoples’ lives matter and I support my WA Greens colleague Robin Chapple’s call for the prevention of further devastating destruction of First Nations People’s heritage in WA. Not a single Aboriginal Heritage Site has been protected since the early ’90s and the people of Western Australia have lost scores of caves, artefacts and sacred spiritual places in that time. Robin subsequently moved in Parliament during June that we debate the failure in Australia — including here in Western Australia — to protect some of the world’s oldest cultural heritage sites, despite efforts by traditional owners to prevent their loss.

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PRESCRIBED BURNING: Prescribed Burning Practice Review Needed

The way we currently manage the bush through prescribed burns is not working. Burns that are conducted outside of scientifically guided best practice are damaging our unique and fragile ecosystems. Bart Lebbing of the Denmark Fire Study Group let me in on a letter they wrote to the Minister for the Environment with deep concerns around the current burning regime. I thought it was so reflective of many people in the South West that I read it in parliament for all to hear.

I’ve invited the Members of Parliament to come down to the South West, and visit these forests toexperience the value of what we need to protect. I truly hope they take up the invitation. You can join the call for a review into the practices used for prescribed burns in Western Australia by signing this petition.