FoE FNQ has once again conducted a State election questionnaire - with all candidates for the Barron River electorate invited to reply to ten questions of particular interest to FoE members and supporters in this area.
The results are below.
They provide insight into the policies and opinions of the four candidates who responded: Craig Crawford (ALP), Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent), Cheryl Tonkin (Independent) and Cameron Boyd (Queensland Greens). FoE FNQ thanks these candidates for their answers.
We are disappointed, but not altogether surprised, that the LNP candidate Michael Trout chose not to reply at all. Perhaps he thinks he can avoid scrutiny on environmental policies, such as the LNP's plan to build a new taxpayer-funded coal-fired power station in FNQ?
Likewise, the One Nation candidate didn't respond.
This State election is under the Compulsory Preferential Voting (CPV) system, like the Federal election for the House of Reps. To lodge a valid vote it's necessary to number EVERY box in order. In the case of Barron River, this election, that means numbering ALL the candidates 1 (first) to 6 (last). The order of your last preferences may end up being crucial to who ultimately receives your vote, so think carefully before you vote!
Based on our evaluation of the questionnaire responses - combined with the candidates' performance at election forums (note: the LNP and One Nation candidates failed to show up to either the Cairns or Kuranda forums) and other publicly-available policy material - we recommend that voters concerned about the environment put the LNP and One Nation last (that is, numbers 5 and 6) in this election.
Final reminder.. to cast a valid vote in this election, number ALL the boxes 1 to 6. If in doubt, check with a Electoral Commission of Queensland official at the voting booth.
1/ Do you support a State Government inquiry into alternative local government arrangements for the Kuranda Region, in which the Kuranda region community is adequately consulted?*
Craig Crawford (Labor): I have not seen any evidence justifying Kuranda to be removed from the MSC so i do not support an enquiry.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent):Considering the Kuranda community has no active representation at the local level, I would absolutely call for and support any enquiry into local government arrangements. Community consultation is paramount, the needs and concerns of the Kuranda community are considerably different to those of the Mareeba community.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): Absolutely. Witnessing the position the Kuranda Community currently finds itself in relation to the MSC and even State Government causes me great concern. The State Government under the Co-ordinator General instituted a “Community Reference Group” (farcical though this one is) to “hear” the concerns of the local residents. Our Community needs their own Voice as a Community Reference Group that is instrumental in informing and instructing MSC of the direction and destiny of THIS community of OURS.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): Yes. In my opinion, it would be best for Kuranda to have its own Kuranda Region Council separate from Mareeba Shore, but there should be a mechanism for the residents to have a say.
2/ Do you support a rapid phase out of the use of pesticides such as glyphosate and neonicotinoids - both of which are under increasing international scrutiny for their toxic impact on wildlife and human health - especially in catchments such as the Barron that are adjacent to very high biodiversity areas and drain directly into the Coral Sea?
Craig Crawford (Labor): I support a phase out of all pesticides however to make it rapid without suitable transition time and education would be potentially disastrous to our agriculture sector. I support collaboration between landholders and key groups such as Terrain, WTMA etc to transition farmers of all sizes as well as domestic users away from pesticides in a controlled manner.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent): I have never been a great fan of the use of pesticides in agriculture, I agree that their use should be phased out. We will need to consult with farmers and develop education and alternate pest management systems so as not to negatively impact the jobs and livelihoods of the farming sector in the region.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): Yes. But my support does not rest solely on the basis of the Barron River and its many issues. There is also the world wide concern of the destruction of massive amounts of insect life including the bee population across the globe, these impacts have increased substantially over the past decade. This devastating impact of glyphosate & neonicotinoids is not just local.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): Yes. These should be rapidly phased out.
3/ Do you support reacquisition by the State Government of previously State-owned plantations - eyesores that are now managed solely for private profit, without regard to the negative environmental impacts of tree monocultures? (These areas of plantations replaced and remain adjacent to high-biodiversity areas including World Heritage forests, and are subjected to repeated herbicide and pesticide application which runs off into the Coral Sea).
Craig Crawford (Labor): There is potential for this to occur, however it's more than just blanket reacquisition and it has to be on a case by case opportunity. If land adjacent to WTMA controlled areas becomes available for purchase or if WTMA believes there is a high environmental need for a specific parcel of land to be returned to natural form then Government could act accordingly. This has been demonstrated already with Government purchases of Earl Hill (pending) as well as stations on Cape York. Again I would be guided by WTMA on this matter and it would be a case by case basis.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent):I have little knowledge of these plantations or the issues surrounding them. I would be happy to take advice and look at the science and evidence for the reacquisition if safe and feasible.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): Yes. I also think the management of these areas holds the potential for our youth to be trained by TAFE in the many skills needed to return these areas to that of natural advantage. Benefiting not just the forests near by but also our youth with good sustainable job prospects.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): Yes. The remaining leases should be cancelled or made much shorter and perhaps some sort of compensation for the companies but they must stop (for good) and allow regrowth. I doubt we would get them to pay for fixing the damage but the first step is to halt them.
4/ Do you support enacting stringent land-clearance laws to prevent further clearing of remnant vegetation and limit clearing of regrowth vegetation across the state?
Craig Crawford (Labor): Yes. Labor has a clear policy of reintroducing land clearing laws to pre Newman days. Unfortunately legislation in this parliament was blocked by the cross bench.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent):I admire and respect our farmers and can acknowledge their frustration over mass land clearing regulations. However, farms do not exist in isolation, they form part of the surrounding landscape, and thus we need to have a management plan that considers the landscape in its entirety. When the LNP relaxed land clearing laws, the rate of land clearing in QLD tripled. I support a stronger Vegetation Management policy being introduced, but let’s involve the farmers, researchers and experts in its creation and get a workable policy with all elements considered.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): Yes. We only have to see what has been recently done to the old Barnwell property to see what clearing of “regrowth” vegetation has done. Besides I am curious to know the definition of “regrowth”, to me that is the growth of the NEW. Like our children, the new generation.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): Yes. Land clearing legislation needs to be enacted with space-based or aerial-based monitoring (like they do with pool fences and illegal house extensions). Penalties should be to return the land to previous state AND other disincentives. See also: https://greens.org.au/qld/initiatives/protecting-nature
5/ What initiatives do you support to increase use of public transport within the Barron River electorate and environs?
Craig Crawford (Labor): Unfortunately Cairns moved away from public transport with the motor car days, however it is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to park and operate cars in Cairns due to the population changes we are having. With the growth of Cairns to the South and the north, all the road infrastructure is unlikely to meet community expectations as far as commuter times and parking ease despite upgrades and extensions.
I expect the attitudes and expectations of Cairns motorists to shift over the next 3-5 years in a similar way we have seen it in smaller cities such as Perth, where a move back to public transport has occurred.
Coupled with the imminent arrival of driverless cars and the possible reduction in the number of household cars being a possibility, it's a difficult time for planners to foresee what the public transportation model of the next 10-15 years will be. Some argue that the mass movers such as trains and trams are to be replaced with personalised transport using electric cars, people movers and human drones. In the next 3-5 years Governments should be in a better position to predict and act accordingly.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent): We need to increase the appeal of public transport and guarantee reliability to entice more users. Making public transport a viable option will require it to be more convenient and cheaper than using vehicles. I would like to investigate a light rail or tram system along the northern and southern corridors, potentially using existing or old rail infrastructure.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): More, wider and better bike lanes. Even if I dare, restricting certain areas from vehicles and preferencing bike commuters.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): I zone across Cairns for $1 fares and free for under 18s. Increased cycle lanes and protected high-traffic routes. Gradually phasing to electric buses plus gradual build of electric production and storage at public transport infrastructure locations. Route optimisation. See also: https://greens.org.au/qld/betterPT
6/ Would you support a safety review of current arrangements under which drinking water is supplied from the Barron River, and until they are upgraded or superseded, official health warnings regarding these town water supplies? (The safety of Kuranda's water has long been a contentious issue. Current filtering of the town water supply does not remove any of the complex cocktail of pesticides in the water.)
Craig Crawford (Labor): Drinking water is supplied by Local Government and so long as the quality of that water meets Government health and environmental guidelines there is no intention from Government to run a review.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent):Access to clean and safe drinking water is a fundamental human right and I would support any review or initiatives to secure safe drinking water for the region.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): Yes. Any potential health risks to residents will not be tolerated. After all, the Kuranda community are not second rate citizens.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): Yes. Including continuous autonomous monitoring and gradually addressing the pollutants through safe agricultural and other industry pollutants. This should be extended to monitoring bore water as well, especially for contaminants like arsenic.
7/ Do you believe the renewable energy targets of the Queensland Government are adequate - and what changes to this policy, if any, would you advocate? (Currently Queensland Government policy is to generate 50% of Queensland's energy from renewable sources by 2030)
Craig Crawford (Labor): 50% renewables has long been ALP policy for a target of 2030. We are currently well on track to achieve this target. However, the LNP proposed Coal Fired Power Generator at Townsville and their reduction in renewables targets to 28%, as also supported by the Federal Coalition sends the wrong message to investors in renewables. It also sends the wrong message to our children.
Queensland needs consistency in its renewables strategy, which has been demonstrated by Labor however is in danger of abolishment by the LNP and One Nation. Whilst the world has moved forwards and embraced clean energy strategies through the Paris agreement, our Federal Government lacks substance.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent):I will support the introduction of a 50% renewables target as I feel it is achievable. I would like to see more investment in access for home and small business rooftop solar initiatives. Another area is access to rooftop solar for renters as they should not be excluded to access of cheaper electricity from renewable sources.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): Looking forward to the day when we are 100 %. I am a strong believer in renewables for both economic and environmental reasons. I also would prefer the 50% target of the present government to give preference to residents installing solar on their homes, in preference to big corporations who undoubtedly will use their position to fleece us, it's no different to what is currently happening with our power supplies. In addition to the fact that it is OUR money.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): I support the RET already proposed by the Greens, however, I also believe we need to be monitoring emissions from a variety of locations, including energy, agriculture, public transport and industry, and then placing emission trend lines to bring down dangerous emissions.
8/ Do you support the creation of a more equitable society and economy - and if so, please indicate key policy initiatives you advocate to achieve this?
Craig Crawford (Labor): I am a proud unionist and have been for all my working life as an Ambulance Paramedic. At the heart of these morals is the belief against inequality. Everyone deserves a core set of social and community protectors around them, housing that is clean and functional, safety from fear and retribution, access to paid employment without punitive action or bullying / intimidation, fair wages and conditions and the right to be treated as an equal in society despite race, religion, sex, relationship status etc.
Labors social policies are well documented and clearly articulated in our parties policy platform, both statewide and federally. Every Labor MP is expected to work towards implementing Labor’s policies.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent): Equitable access to healthcare and education and the ability to have meaningful employment are, for me, the cornerstones of an equitable society. While I have no specific policy initiatives these areas would be a key focus. I also feel we need to move away from a solely punitive justice system and look at the root cause of crime and criminal activity and introduce evidence based sustainable programs to divert people from crime, and I believe this links into my first three issues. Serious crime and criminals need to be held to justice but we need to look at preventing crime from the outset.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): Yes. Firstly lets start with the mining interests within our State that are doing very well out of our commodities (omitting that they are probably overseas owned) and yet failing to pay their fair share of taxes. Legal yes possibly but hardly ethical let alone equitable. The resurrection of TAFE as pre the Newman government that decimated this institution and left our young people short-changed for affordable and practical training and skill based learning venues. Passing them off to be privatised for profit companies whose objectives are not that of the student. We need our young well trained with applicable skills to take this Nation forward as the future of work unfolds with the impact of developing technology and robots. As a civil society we owe the “Fair Go” principle to all and its time we took steps to implement it.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): Yes. The Queensland Public Infrastructure Bank is our key initiative to do this, supported by several others. See: https://greens.org.au/qld/infrastructure
9/ What is your position on the Kur-World proposal?
Craig Crawford (Labor): I am awaiting the Kur World EIS before i make any judgements on aspects of that development. As the incumbent Member of Parliament it would be reckless of me to take any side on the matter until the Coordinator General has completed his evaluations.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent):I will not support the Kur-World development. There are significant environmental concerns that need to be addressed, such as unapproved land clearing and pollution of waterways with sediment, from an initially, unapproved dam.The fact that a retrospective approval was granted for this dam questions the validity of the development. It also brings into question the environmental protection and development laws. I will commit to strengthening of environmental laws to protect sites of ecological significance and call for changes to development law limiting development in these areas of significance. There are also concerns being raised about animal habitat destruction particularly that of the Kuranda Tree Frog. Kuranda needs to develop its capacity to accept increasing tourist numbers, and as a gateway to the tablelands, but this must be in consultation with the community and careful consideration of the environment, which is ultimately the draw card for the region.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): Unconditional NO. There is nothing about this proposal that achieves anything good for anyone except the developer, not to mention the devastating environmental impacts to date and obviously more to come. I expect that should this development be permitted to succeed that we will see the extinction of the Myola Frog. Also lacking in all this is the voice of the local residents in the decision. There is no legislation that gives local communities the right of VETO on developments that are totally out of sync with the community. We need this legislation and protection.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): My position is that KUR-World must be stopped for a variety of reasons, not the least to protect the endangered species. The infrastructure, including power, water, health care, emergency services, and the range road have insufficient capacity to handle the strain. Further, it is against several local and regional plans, and would change the community forever.
10/ What is your position on the Adani mine proposal?
Craig Crawford (Labor): Labor has allowed the Adani mine to continue through its regulatory processes. Labor has made it clear it does not support public funds going into Adani, whether its State or Federal. The Premier has clearly stated she will block the NAIF loan if the Federal Government decides to loan Adani the $1Billion. I support the Premiers stance on the NAIF loan. Now it is up to Adani to see if they truly have the ability to raise the capitol required to commence.
Andrew Hodgetts ( Independent): The Adani coal project is one of the greatest threats to the environment in Queensland today, I will stand to stop Adani at every opportunity. The company’s already dubious environmental track record overseas, and the fact they have already breached environmental conditions at the Abbot Point coal terminal, does not bode well. Also of significance is the free access to unlimited groundwater granted by the state government. This access, which is not subject to the newly established Water Act Referral Panel, and provides no volumetric limits to groundwater removed or any triggers to halt mining activities, will have serious impacts on the quality and volume of water in the Great Artesian basin. Adani itself predicts up to 26 million litres of water a day will be drawn from the basin. This travesty cannot be allowed to continue. I also question the validity of the NAIF board, considering only one third of the members live and work in north Queensland, and several board members have clear connections to companies that could benefit if the NAIF loan went ahead.
Cheryl Tonkin (Independent): Absolutely NOT. This proposed mine that to date has the inexplicable support of every level and party of government from State to Federal. Can only presume many cynical reasons and political opportunism. The environmental and economic impacts upon the region including the potential to devastate the Great Barrier Reef is not worth the risk. To date there is not a report yet published that has anything positive to say about the Adani proposal.
Cameron Boyd (Greens): My position on Adani is that it must be stopped, as vocalised in repeated news items. See also: https://greens.org.au/qld/stopadani
* (Footnote to Question 1) In 2013, the Kuranda region was forced to become part of a newly resurrected Mareeba Shire Council, against very strong majority sentiment (~80% of voters within the Kuranda region opposed de-amalgamation of the united Tablelands Regional Council in the 2012 referendum). Since then, Kuranda region representation on Council has fallen to zero - while MSC continues to foist a crude development agenda on Kuranda region residents and is widely perceived as high-handed and unsympathetic to the desire of most Kuranda residents for much higher environmental standards. Alternatives to be investigated should include (a) merging the Kuranda Region with Douglas Shire and (b) creating a new Kuranda Region Council, separate from Mareeba Shire.
The beautiful Barron River is central to the ecology that has sustained First Nations peoples for a thousand generations. Now it flows through some of the most intensively farmed land in the country cutting through the World Heritage rainforest with its delta cutting through the middle of Cairns and out to the Great Barrier Reef. Elevated chemicals are found in the water threatening the environment.
The rich World Heritage Wet Tropics rainforests are home to Australia's greatest diversity of animals and plants. Yet there are many rare, threatened and endangered animals. Friends of the Earth FNQ works with local communities and individual members to help preserve environmental biodiversity in the Far North region.
A group formed to lobby for a recycling collection in the Mareeba Shire. We share ideas on how to reduce, reuse and recycle amongst the group, as well as how to lobby further for better recycling options.
Members of FOE FNQ are seriously questioning the proposed resort and suburban development in Myola near Kuranda. This area, zoned rural, is one of the very few habitats of the Kuranda Tree Frog. Locals are already seeing impacts on local wildlife and cultural heritage issues have been neglected. Furthermore recent earthworks at the site appear to be illegal and have damaged creeks.
FoEFNQ seeks to be actively involved, supporting other non-aligned campaigns and groups in FNQ.
We work with our friends at small local CSG-Free groups in Cairns, Mossman, Kuranda, Port Douglas and Cooktown.
FOEFNQ wants to keep NQ free of Coal Seam Gas mining and exploration activities. And we support the campaigns of Lock the Gate against gas in Queensland.
Kuranda has a unique positioning right adjacent to the Wet Tropics World Heritage area. We seek to preserve and improve the ambiance of our beautiful village. We want new infrastructure and developments to fit with OUR heritage as the Village in the Rainforest. We campaign on issues that look after the environment and ecosystems of Kuranda: the Spirit of Kuranda.
Roaming dogs, uncontrolled and hungry are a danger to cassowary and other Australian wildlife. They can also be dangerous to both children and adults. This campaign aims to educate the community about the threats from roaming dogs and to regulate them at the Shire and State levels so that dog owners are able to exercise the level of responsibility required for a safe community and safe bush.
In 2010, the Qld Government sold 99 year leases of Forestry Plantations to Hancock's Timber Resources: 350 000 hectares in all. One plantation is situated right next to Wet Tropics World Heritage. Caribbean Pine mono-culture is being grown with intensive aerial spraying of chemicals for 'weeds', i.e. native forest regrowth. Many in the community express that they have not been consulted or informed. Licenses should be reassigned and the forests re-vegetated for crucial wildlife corridors and habitat for cassowaries and other wildlife.