Trying to pass a Climate Change Act – try again next year
By Hon. Tim Clifford, MLC for East Metropolitan
All I want for Christmas is … Action on Climate Change
These past two months have been somewhat of a blur for me and my team ‒ a lot has happened. We began November with the first parliamentary debate on our Climate Change Act. About 300 people stood alongside myself, my colleagues and some incredible speakers in support of our Bill and stronger action on climate change. And although the debate in the House was predictably disappointing ‒ with the Environment Minister noticeably absent ‒ the community support we received was overwhelming. This will not be the last you see of this legislation.
It seems every other week there is a new report, further research supporting a swift transition to renewable energy and net-zero emissions; for strong targets and investment in local, clean industries. And this additional evidence is always met with strong community and business support. Yet, Australia ‒ and notably WA ‒ still lags in policy and action. You may have read the WA Labor Government's climate change policy which was released with little fanfare earlier this month. The policy did little more than reaffirm the State Government's “aspiration” of net-zero by 2050, and allow emissions to continue to increase in the future. Aside from previously announced initiatives, the policy allocated some funding to electric vehicle charging infrastructure and carbon farming.
In response to this disappointing policy, we announced The Greens (WA) Tackling Climate Change policy for the 2021 State election, earlier this month ahead of the rest of the policy platform. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here: https://greens.org.au/wa/platform/climate This policy reflects the climate crisis by establishing strong renewable energy and emission reduction targets, and redirecting fossil fuel subsidies to fund the critical investment in clean industries and technologies. This policy guarantees climate to be at the centre of all decision-making while ensuring our most vulnerable are protected. This is the policy that WA needs.
In other news
I used the final moments of the 40th parliament of Western Australia to guarantee stronger transparency requirements for the Swan Valley in the recently gazetted Swan Valley Planning Act. The Act effectively overrides the local and state planning laws for the Swan Valley, and established a subsidiary committee of the WA Planning Commission to be empowered to make planning decisions related to the area in addition to an advisory body responsible to the Minister. With the support of my colleagues, the crossbench and the Opposition, I moved 3 amendments to this unique planning bill: a 5 year review of the Bill and associated planning schemes, and two amendments to prevent members from sitting on both the WAPC planning committee and the Minister’s advisory body. By implementing these measures, we can reduce any actual or perceived corruption, and improve transparency by enabling regular reviews, ensuring the Act and subsequent planning legislation is operating as intended. The Swan Valley is such a unique area, and it is important to protect both the environment, community and its future.
Bring on 2021
This year was unlike anything we had anticipated, and I for one am glad to see the end of it. Yet despite these unprecedented, uncertain times, 2020 has also filled me with immense hope for the years ahead, particularly for 2021. We witnessed communities come together and support each other in times of need, and we saw resounding resolve to tackle big long-term issues like climate change while still grappling with the immediate impacts of a global pandemic. It has been inspiring to say the least.
Next year will be big, busy, and probably filled with further uncertainty but if we navigated our way through 2020 I’m sure we can do the same for 2021. Have a safe and happy Holidays ‒ and I’ll see you in the New Year!
Header photo: Our Climate Policy Launch at Parliament House