Citizens’ agenda: Our next state government must act on climate change
Candidates for Hammond at the 2022 state election respond to voters’ concerns about climate change, the environment and the River Murray.
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Steve Burgess is a small business owner, a pragmatist – and climate change is the issue that most worries him in the lead-up to the state election.
Even if there were more immediate concerns, the long-term threat would overwhelm us all unless governments, businesses and people did something about it, he argued.
Its effects were already being sorely felt in parts of Australia, with unprecedented bushfires two summers ago and unprecedented flooding in recent days.
Humanity might survive in a world where runaway climate change was a reality, he said, but what would our quality of life be like?
“The climate is a leveller – everyone is affected by it,” he said.
“There’s not enough attention paid to this by the political parties.
“Industry is way ahead of the government on this matter.”
Rising insurance costs and a vulnerable Murray-Darling river system were two more signs of the trouble ahead, he said.
Dozens more respondants to Murray Bridge News’ citizens' agenda survey named climate change, or the environment and the health of the River Murray, among their top concerns at this election.
Its impact would be overwhelming, one said, affecting everything from our health – with more mosquito-borne diseases making their way south, for example – to refugee numbers.
“We can’t migrate to another planet,” another respondant said.
“We can’t put off the pain of the changes.
“We just have to spread the load and cost as fairly and evenly as we are able.”
Murray Bridge News put the question to the candidates for Hammond.
If elected, how will you address climate change, and protect the environment and the River Murray?
Tim White (Greens)
Ecological sustainability sits at the core of everything we do in the Greens.
All policies related to the environment are coupled with ideas on how the Greens will create new jobs.
Our key polices are laden with ways the Greens will reduce greenhouse gas emissions: kickstarting the electric vehicle industry, encouraging the update of public transport by making travel free, establishing a government-owned renewable energy industry, and creating networks of cycling paths in our towns in Hammond.
Our Bushcare jobs plan will create up to 1590 jobs through a $265 million investment over a 10-year period.
The Greens in the SA Parliament have a good track record of pursuing concerns about water flow in the Murray River to ensure the needs of farming and horticulture in Hammond, while balancing this with sustainable environmental flows.
The Greens will continue to monitor this, as the Murray River will remain our central identity and life blood in Hammond.
Tonya Scott (One Nation)
One Nation doesn’t subscribe to climate change ideology.
We put Australia and Australians first.
We believe Australia – responsible for only 1.3 per cent of global emissions – needs to forge ahead with an independent energy future that isn’t held hostage by international climate change zealots.
They make our country a target while allowing the world’s largest emitter, China, to increase emissions at an annual rate which dwarfs all of Australia’s emissions combined.
The River Murray is South Australia’s most important natural resource and I support practical measures to keep the river environment healthy.
It’s important to understand it’s not just a matter of adding more water, but how you add it and what you do with it.
I don’t support any more water being taken from already-efficient South Australian irrigators.
One Nation supports the hybrid Bradfield scheme, diverting the Clarence River’s monsoonal water inland and into the Murray-Darling system.
Airlie Keen (independent)
I grew up on the River Murray and understand its importance to many people, communities and sectors and I am committed to delivering the Basin Plan in full.
I support practical sustainable measures in the areas of energy use, waste reduction and environmental protection and enhancement.
I have supported investment in solar panels and EV charging stations along with street tree planting and stormwater reuse and reducing our reliance on the river.
I have been a committed Landcare volunteer for many years.
Importantly though, there has been a community push to save four Monarto Woodlands allotments from being sold off by the state Liberal government.
The area is home to the diamond firetail and other declining woodland birds.
With your support this election, I am confident we will not only save the Monarto Woodlands but do so much more to protect our environment.
John Illingworth (National)
As the member for Hammond, I will support technology investment which prioritises investment in hydrogen, long-duration energy storage, low-emissions steel and aluminium production, carbon capture and storage, and healthy soils.
As our region grows, we must also focus on practical emissions reduction projects, like capturing methane from landfill and storing carbon in forests.
I will action the communities environment program, to help restore waterways, protect native animals, reduce litter and improve local parks.
I will also seek access to the $100 million Environment Restoration Fund, to protect, preserve and restore our iconic natural landscapes.
The River Murray is one area where the SA Nationals sometimes differ in view from our federal colleagues.
I support protecting both river flows and culturally significant wetlands, whilst also building strong and sustainable communities.
I also support boosting regional productivity and helping river towns adapt to a potential future of reduced water availability.
Belinda Owens (Labor)
Murray Bridge News has sought comment from Ms Owens.
Cameron Lock (Family First)
I am all for renewable sources of energy.
I do think we need to be investing in large-scale solar and battery plants and continue to offer grants to homeowners.
I do not think we should be switching off our non-renewable sources of energy either, there needs to be a balance.
There are many advantages and disadvantages of both renewable and non-renewable energy sources, including supply and demand issues during peak times, loss of jobs and income from the mining industry, and the inevitable end of life considerations for renewables.
According to the Clean Energy Council, South Australia already has the second highest electricity production from renewables – 60 per cent.
The River Murray is the lifeblood to so many businesses, families, bird and animal life.
We must do everything we can to protect a necessary aspect of South Australia.
We need to invest in modernising water usage, and ensure we keep upstream states accountable to deliver the 450-gigalitre target by 2024.
Adrian Pederick (Liberal)
The Marshall Liberal government has committed to achieve net 100 per cent renewable energy by or before 2030.
A $2 billion electricity interconnector with New South Wales will lower power prices and enable South Australia’s abundant renewable energy to be exported.
The Marshall Liberal government is protecting our environment by the banning of single-use plastics, investing in our network of national parks and creating the first new national park in many years at Glenthorne Park.
Landscape boards were created to replace the old, outdated Natural Resource Management framework, proving the government's commitment to deliver better natural resources management across the state.
I support the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full and on time.
The Marshall Liberal government has not ruled out support for voluntary buybacks if we do not reach the 450-gigalitre target by July 2024.
Over $100 million has been secured to improve the environmental conditions of the River Murray in South Australia, including Project Coorong.
Meet the candidates for Hammond
Murray Bridge News will host a public forum with the candidates for Hammond at the Bridgeport Hotel on the evening of Wednesday, March 16.
Book your free ticket: www.eventbrite.com.au.
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A very telling range of views, Peri. Thank-you.