that Australia's own target under the Protocol is a reasonable
one, and that the outstanding issues in climate change negotiations
are unlikely to significantly impact the effort required
to meet Australia's target.
will be important for the protocol to be advanced and for
it to come into force and it is critical that Australia takes
a more active leadership role in international climate change
negotiations. The Kyoto Protocol is not dead and Australia
should not be beholden to the United States's position. We
must exercise independent judgement.
Of course, any
effective international regime will ultimately require the
participation of all emitters, including developing countries.
Should Labor be elected this year, our policy will be to
actively work to advance the Kyoto process and to get all
parties - Australia included - committed to ratifying the
protocol after the outstanding issues have been resolved,
hopefully in order for it to come into force in 2002.
Labor is also committed
to domestic action to meet our Kyoto target. Labor will halt
broadscale land clearing, which is responsible for significant
emissions, and will introduce a greenhouse trigger under
the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation
the recent passage of the Renewable Energy (Electricity)
Act 2000. Although not perfect, the measure represents
a start and an important boost to a fledgling renewable energy
In the debate
on the Bill, we expressed our concern about a number of issues,
and we flagged the use of native forest biomass as an issue
that requires further attention. As a result of Labor amendments
to the legislation, there are now strong disclosure requirements
in place and a requirement for a formal review that will
scrutinise all environmental impacts of the measure, including
the extent to which native forest biomass has been utilised.
The Howard Government
has failed the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions are
continuing to grow unabated. The much heralded Natural Heritage
Trust has failed to address the continuing decline of our
rural landscapes, has hidden substantial cuts to core environmental
funding, has resulted in massive cost shifting and has achieved
little apart from awareness raising.
The Howard Government,
with the support of the Australian Democrats, passed legislation
enabling the Environment Minister to delegate its environmental
powers to inconsistent and ineffective state regimes. It
has allowed uranium mining in a World Heritage area and is
building a new nuclear reactor in suburban Sydney.
In contrast, Labor
is committed to re-establishing Australia as an international
leader in environmental protection, and will pursue environmental
diplomacy as a key element of its international agenda. We
will restore the integrity of the World Heritage Commission,
which the Howard Government has undermined in its desire
to allow the Jabiluka mine.
Labor will seek
long term protection for the Kakadu World Heritage area in
the interests of both the environment and the indigenous
peoples. Labor has consistently opposed the Jabiluka mine
and the nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights.
Labor is committed
to overhaul the Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act to ensure that the Commonwealth take
full responsibility for issues of national environmental
significance. In addition, Labor will establish an Office
of Sustainable Development in Prime Minister and Cabinet
to ensure a whole of government response to systemic environmental
issues, such as salinity and climate change.
Labor will develop
a national strategy on salinity and natural resources management.
Under this strategy, Labor will set targets and caps for
key environmental issues, including a target to halt the
further decline in the quality and extent of native vegetation
in Australia by 2005.
Labor will establish
an Office of the Commissioner for the Environment. This commissioner
will head an independent body charged with monitoring, assessing
and honestly communicating environmental performance and
progress towards sustainability.
Thank you for giving
me the the chance to address your concerns.
Kim C Beazley
Leader of The Opposition
Canberra ACT 2600
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