Howard's forest announcement signals a final failure on environment

October 8, 2004

In the last days before the election it is clear that the Coalition has profoundly failed on almost all key environmental issues. The Prime Minister's announcement on forests was an enormous disappointment. Taken more broadly, it mirrors the Coalition's failure on most environmental issues: amongst other short-comings they have failed to adopt strong greenhouse policies and only committed one third of the water that scientists agree is needed to help restore the Murray River to health.

In contrast, and if implemented, the ALP forest policy will protect much larger areas of Tasmania’s old growth and world heritage forests than the Coalition, and has substantial funding attached to ensure no net job loss in the industry. The ALP also has a plan to save the Murray – Darling system, will ratify the Kyoto Protocol and raise the mandatory renewable energy target (MRET), although their target of 5% from renewables is still far too low.

Throughout the build-up to October 9, it has been clear that the environment is a key issue in Federal elections for the Australian people. Based on it's assessment of the Howard government since 1996, Friends of the Earth Australia has argued that the Coalition has consistently failed to protect the environment and has also failed on to meet the needs of Indigenous people, has damaged Australia's international reputation, unfairly targeted and treated refugees, and set shamefully low levels of foreign aid. This most recent announcement shows that while it was forced to move on forests because of community sentiment it was still not capable of taking a visionary stand on what is clearly a major issue for most Australians.

"This election was a missed opportunity for both major parties to commit to the 60% reduction in greenhouse pollution required by 2050 if we are to avoid dramatic impacts from climate change, but the ALP at least has shown it has listened to the concerns of the Australian people on environmental issues" said FoEA spokesperson Cam Walker.

Further comment: Cam Walker, 0419 338 047.