Environmental Thoughts: SEI Experts Comment on the 2016 Federal Election

Sydney Environment Institute experts and associates comment on the upcoming Federal Election.

With the 2016 Australian Federal Election looming, here is what some Sydney Environment Institute academics and associates believe we should think about, environmentally, before voting:

Dr Frances Flanagan, Research Affiliate


“The coalition’s record on the environment has been catastrophic. We urgently need a realistic, detailed plan for a fast and fair transition to a low-carbon economy.  Instead, the Coalition scrapped the carbon price, slashed the CSIRO, and continues to serve up billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies to fossil fuel companies, directly incentivising the coal, oil and gas extraction that has bleached our precious Great Barrier Reef grey and white. By all means, vote for one of the progressive parties and put the coalition last. But no matter who wins, keep up the pressure on our politicians to recognise that a just transition to a low-carbon society requires deep strategic government planning and investment, we can’t simply leave it to the free market.”

Dan Cass, Honorary Associate BERN Node


“There are a range of environmental issues, but global warming ties so many of them together – as it’s at the heart of the debate around everything from resource extraction, water, biodiversity and everything on land and sea. If we lose a safe climate, we lose the lot. This understanding has seen the Great Barrier Reef, perhaps for the first time, being discussed as a climate issue, rather than purely a marine protection issue. Both Labor and the Greens are trying to reframe climate action as a jobs issue, by talking about renewable energy as a job creator. This reflects our research which shows renewable energy is the climate policy that directly creates jobs and is popular across the political spectrum.”

“The Australia Institute’s research shows that there is great potential for renewable energy to create jobs. Polling we’ve commissioned also shows renewable energy consistently enjoys very strong public support. The Australia Institute has calculated that if the Renewable Energy Target is extended to 2030 and increased, this would create jobs. That would reverse losses in renewable energy employment, which dropped 27% from a peak of 19,120 in 2012 to 14,020 in 2015. The Greens policy of 90% in 2030 will result in employment in renewable energy over 35,000 jobs in 2030. Labor’s policy of 50% in 2030 will result in employment in renewable energy over 20,000 jobs in 2030. Our research on Australian public opinion has found that almost three quarters of voters would consider a party that supports decentralised, small-scale solar and battery storage.”

PhD candidate Amelia Cornish, Faculty of Veterinary Science

“The Australian Government needs to reinstate animal welfare back on the national agenda and dedicate resources to a new national framework (restoring what was lost in 2013 when the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) was defunded). They should also work with industry to expand the share of Australia’s export trade represented by chilled and frozen meat, and reduce that represented by live export due to the difficulties in humanely exporting live animals.”

PhD candidate Steve Doo, School of Biological Sciences
“The Great Barrier Reef has just experienced the worst bleaching event in recorded history. The choices the voters will make in this federal election are likely to have serious repercussions across multiple generations. The good news is that there still is hope if action is taken now. Issues of climate change due to coal exports, water quality from agriculture runoff, and crown of thorn starfish are all serious problems that need immediate action from our elected government.”