THE federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, says governments are failing to deal with the real environmental issues facing regional Australia.
Speaking in Federal Parliament last week, Mr Chester called for a broader environmental debate which wasn’t focused solely on reducing emissions.
“We need a balanced approach to ensuring we achieve our energy security and affordability needs and delivering the environmental outcomes that Australians expect,” Mr Chester told Parliament.
“I accept that climate change is a global challenge and we must play our part as a responsible nation, but the other environmental challenges, the real environmental challenges we face everyday demand local action.
“What I am talking about is practical environmental action in this nation. The need for more boots and fewer suits – that’s more boots on the ground doing practical environmental work and fewer suits in the cities making excuses for why things can’t be done.”
Mr Chester said practical action included a focus on pest animals and weed control, the need to improve biodiversity and tackle erosion and riparian vegetation. “Things like hazard reduction in our forests and critical asset protection around our towns and catchments and important infrastructure,” Mr Chester said.
“What I’m seeing as I travel throughout Gippsland is farmers, landholders and people living in towns who are deeply concerned about the impact of feral animals – feral deer, feral pigs – in their communities.
“These issues demand greater attention in this place in partnership with the land owners and the state governments.”
Mr Chester said issues such as foot-and-mouth disease posed risks to the agriculture sector if it were to get loose in Australia.
“Feral pigs would spread this disease through the country and we now have feral pics showing up in northern Victoria in my electorate of Gippsland,” he said.
“It also has to include a serious conversation about a world-class and sustainable native timber industry in regions like Victoria, where the industry is under direct threat right now by Premier Dan Andrews.
“I would argue the true environmentalists in this nation live in regional communities. They’re the people who are out their getting their hands dirty joining Landcare, Coastcare, doing feral animal control and planting trees.
“Unfortunately in Victoria the workforce for public land management has been gutted by a government which continues to invest in more suits and fewer boots.”