Saving forests, opposing an irrigation scheme, and supporting freight to rail, Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation and enhanced climate action
By Hon. Diane Evers, MLC, Member for South West
It is so good to be writing this after a successful Australian Greens National Conference in July. Joining together with my national colleagues in Adelaide was so valuable and, in this case, we were able to take stock of a successful federal election – where our primary vote increased! Despite the Morrison Government being returned in May, this is not something either the Coalition or Australian Labor can claim.
On a personal and local level, it was wonderful to participate in the inaugural Country Greens Working Group during the conference. There were twenty-three people in the room during the meeting, with eight more online. An untapped desire exists within the regions to build hope and grassroots contributions, based on evidence, optimism and sustainable Greens policies. I anticipate country connections will be strengthened both within the Greens and with the country as a result.
I also took great value from workshops during the conference discussing LGBTIQ+ matters, as well as the cross-jurisdictional issue of oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight.
Wonderful news from the committed and passionate WA Forest Alliance (WAFA) — Lewin stands!
According to WAFA, the Lewin forest blocks in the Southern Forests Region, along with the Channybearup, Barrabup and Nelson blocks, have been taken off the imminent list of forests scheduled for logging, after it was announced earlier this year they would only be protected until the end of August.
This magnificent, ancient forest would have been levelled over the past few months if it wasn't for the incredible passion of those who defended it by occupying a campsite blockade throughout the winter months.
Thank you to the dedicated crew at WAFA – along with all those who supported the peaceful protest at Lewin throughout the blockade!
In August my office was informed of heavy-handed intimidation tactics being employed against some of the almost 1,000 people who signed a petition requesting the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme (SFIS) be stopped.
Information in the publicly available petition to WA Parliament, which I tabled in June, was alleged to have been used by backers of the SFIS to identify and target those who signed the document.
The claims came ahead of a community gathering at Glenoran Pool on August 23, which drew over 100 people. It was an important day, with frustrated landowners turning out during working hours – and in the rain – to demand answers from the water trading scheme’s representatives.
There were many questions, but few answers. The local community must be heard and the unfair, poorly consulted scheme stopped – and should any complaints be made and proven regarding the harassment of petitioners, I hope the Legislative Council exercises powers to hold these offenders to account.
I love trains – and as recently as July, I was hopeful of gathering a thousand (or more) signatures on a petition to parliament to reopen the railway line between Bunbury and Greenbushes, keeping in mind that WA Parliament does not accept anything other than hand-written, physical copies of petitions.
Well, thanks to the incredible efforts of the principal petitioner Therese Dignam, in August I tabled a petition in Parliament on behalf of 3,334 concerned members of the South West community, who wish to improve road safety by seeing haulage from the Greenbushes lithium mine put on rail.
For a physical petition spanning such a large area, this was a significant show of public support and I thank Therese for her substantial efforts – she even made the trip from the South West to Parliament via train!
On August 6 my colleague Robin Chapple and I joined Perth woman Belinda Teh on the steps of Parliament House as she completed the final steps of Belinda's Brave Walk.
Beginning in Victoria, Belinda arrived at Parliament House after 70-day journey, to coincide with the introduction of Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, introduced into Parliament later on in the month.
Western Australia, through this Bill, has a unique opportunity to finally allow for compassion, dignity and respect for terminally ill people, and that it is people like Belinda who give so much and campaign so hard for change.
I was proud to join The Greens (WA) climate change spokesperson Tim Clifford at the Extinction Rebellion-organised ‘Declaration of Rebellion’ Rally on August 15, along with Robin Chapple and Alison Xamon.
As the remarkable School Strike 4 Climate activists have shown, there are loud and committed voices calling on government to do more to address the climate crisis.
I thank those who turned up in the spirit of peace and non-violence.
Finally, I am very grateful to have had some time, both during July’s parliamentary recess and after August’s sitting weeks, to get out and visit constituents throughout the South West Region (and beyond). I even made it to Broome – where I got to meet with some of the newly established Country Greens!
Activities in the region over the past two months have included:
- Joining the Apex Club of Bunbury Koombana for their third annual sleep-out, aimed to increase awareness of the homelessness issue in Bunbury and to provide a glimpse into the plight our homeless people face daily.
- Attending the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery's Noongar Country Exhibition family day, to celebrate the diversity and strength of Noongar arts and culture.
- Enjoying the costumes, jousting and dancing of the Balingup Medieval Carnivale!
- Taking in the Dowerin Field Days and chatting regenerative agriculture.
- Visiting the Margaret River Farmers’ Market and community garden to meet constituents.
- And many more stops in Mandurah, Busselton, Gelorup, Bridgetown, Denmark, Northcliffe and Albany!
Header photo: Diane and members of the Country Greens working group at the Australian Greens National Conference in Adelaide. Diane Evers