Election 2013

How do the major parties' environmental policies compare?


Our environment, your call

We've done a full, independent assessment of the parties’ environment policies [brief & full versions here]. The decisions of the next Senate will be crucial for Australia’s environment. Here’s how the main Senate contenders stack up on key environmental issues that must go before the Senate.

Key environmental decisions which hinge on the senate Australian Labor Party Coalition Lib/Nat The Greens Nick Xenophon Katter's Australian Party Palmer United Party

Climate change

Keep a price on carbon pollution?

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Sad koala

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Declined to respond

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Declined to respond

Clean energy

Keep the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation?

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Sad koala

Happy koala

Declined to respond

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Declined to respond

Cutting pollution

Keep the Climate Change Authority?

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Sad koala

Happy koala

Declined to respond

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Declined to respond

Environment laws

Remove the possibility of national environmental approval powers being handed to the states?

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Declined to respond

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Declined to respond

Oceans

Keep our new Marine Reserve Network?

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?

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Declined to respond

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Declined to respond

Key Support

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Oppose

Sad koala

No commitment

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ACF’s Senate scorecard is based on our full independent assessment of the parties’ environment policies [brief & full versions here]. Authorised by Don Henry, ACF, 1/60 Leicester St, Carlton, Vic, 3053.


How do the major parties' environmental policies compare?

Click on the issue to expand. See the pros and cons of party positions. All parties were consulted to prepare this guide.

A safe climate

Retain a carbon price

Labor Liberal/National Greens
Transition from fixed carbon price to Emissions Trading Scheme in 2014; mechanism capable of achieving any nominated level of emissions cuts. Abolish carbon pricing and implement the Direct Action plan; mechanism and capped funding allocation provide no certainty that 5% cut can be achieved. Will fall short of 5% target if emissions cuts are more expensive than forecast. Maintain carbon price as legislated in 2011. Transition to ETS in 2015; mechanism capable of achieving any nominated level of emissions cuts.

Set science-based caps on greenhouse pollution in 2014 based on advice from the independent Climate Change Authority, and commit to our equitable share for an effective global agreement to reduce the impacts of climate change

Labor Liberal/National Greens
  • Keep warming below 2°C.
  • Maintain Climate Change Authority to recommend 2020 targets and beyond.
  • 2020 target: 5% to 25% from 2000 levels. Final 2020 targets set in 2014 on Climate Change Authority advice.
  • 2050 target: 80% below 2000 levels.
  • Committed to 5% unilateral cuts, despite global pledges now meeting criteria to move to 17% by 2020. Ratify second Kyoto period in 2014.
  • Keep warming below 2°C.
  • Repeal Climate Change Authority and not consider a stronger target than 5% by 2020 until 2015.
  • 2020 target: 5% to 25%. Will not raise target beyond 5% until 2015, despite global pledges now meeting criteria to move to 17% by 2020.
  • No commitment to targets beyond 2020.
  • In principle commitment to second period of Kyoto Protocol.
  • Keep warming below 1.5°C.
  • Retain all new independent bodies established by law. Maintain Climate Change Authority in cap setting process for 2020 and beyond.
  • 2020 target: 25% to 40%.
  • 2050 target: net zero emissions.
  • Ratify second period of Kyoto Protocol in 2014.

Complement the carbon price with a suite of policies that drive reductions in domestic emissions intensity by accelerating renewable energy deployment, increasing energy efficiency and ensure declining pollution from fossil fuel use

Labor Liberal/National Greens
  • Maintain 41,000GWh target for large renewable energy capacity by 2020, and 4,000GWh+ of rooftop solar. No commitment to expand RET beyond 2020, but will consider via Climate Change Authority 2016 review.
  • Retain CEFC with legislated $10bn over 5 years for emerging renewable energy technologies.
  • Yet to set national target or implement 2010 commitment for energy efficiency. Feasibility work on National Energy Savings Initiative, but no timetable for implementation.
  • Maintain 41,000GWh target for large renewable energy capacity by 2020 and statutory review in 2014. No commitment to expand RET beyond 2020.
  • Abolish CEFC, discontinue any deals already made.
  • $3bn Emissions Reduction Fund to include financing companies to use energy more efficiently.
  • Lift RET to 90% by 2030, acknowledging increased renewables coming from CEFC investments.
  • Retain CEFC with legislated $10bn over 5 years. Boost CEFC to $30bn over 10 years.
  • Design a National Energy Efficiency Scheme and introduce an independent Energy Savings Agency to oversee this and other energy efficiency reforms.

Reform wasteful government incentives to produce and use fossil fuels and reinvest the savings into a cleaner economy, better community services and a healthier environment

Labor Liberal/National Greens
Remove one year of free permits to coal generators via Energy Security Fund. Reform accelerated depreciation for mining exploration. Repeal Energy Security Fund for coal generators with repeal of carbon price. Abolish key mining sector subsidies: diesel fuel rebates ($8bn over four years), accelerated depreciation on exploration ($4bn over four years), accelerated depreciation on assets ($1.85bn over four years). Review Energy Security Fund.

Protect our natural environment

Protect well-functioning ecosystems (oceans, forests and landscapes)

Labor Liberal/National Greens
  • Maintain expanded Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network.
  • $200m over 5 years for Reef Rescue.
  • $20m for weed control.
  • 96m for biodiversity projects under Caring for Our Country targeted grants and Biodiversity Fund Round 2.
  • Cut $600m from Biodiversity Fund, reducing it to $400m over six years.
  • Supports implementation of Tasmanian Forests Agreement.
  • Review boundaries of Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network and suspend management plans. Disallowance motion on Marine reserves to be voted on when Senate resumes.
  • $200m for Reef Rescue, including $40m to establish Reef Trust.
  • $5m for dugong and turtle protection.
  • $300m for a ‘green army’ to be involved in biodiversity projects and Landcare.
  • Abolish Biodiversity Fund, but will honour contracts already signed.
  • Will honour existing and committed contracts under the Tas Forests Intergovernmental Agreement, will seek to reverse the World Heritage extension.
  • Great Barrier Reef Bill to strengthen reef protection. No more coal ports along Great Barrier Reef. Help farmers reduce run-off to GBR. $176m reef rescue package.
  • $120m over three years for bioregional plans and recovery plans for threatened species.
  • Support marine reserve network and would strengthen marine planning and protections. $6m over three years for shark research.
  • Clean Air Act to measure and reduce air pollution.
  • Will oppose any attempt to repeal the World Heritage listing of Tas forests.
  • $120m three-year biodiversity package. Restore full funding to Biodiversity Fund.

Connect and expand national protected areas by working with Indigenous communities and other land holders to build continental scale conservation initiatives

Labor Liberal/National Greens
National Wildlife Corridor Plan announced in 2012. Stopped funding strategic land acquisition for National Reserve System. No public position. $120m three-year biodiversity package includes mapping and protection of wildlife corridors across Australia.

Strengthen national environment laws

Labor Liberal/National Greens
  • Increase streamlining: “Aim at having one single integrated assessment system, even if we continue to have two different decision points.” But retain federal approval powers under EPBC Act: “Responsibility for matters of national environmental significance must ultimately remain the responsibility of the national government. And for that reason…(the ALP) will not hand final approval powers under the EPBC Act to state governments”
  • No commitment to remove the possibility of devolving national environmental approvals to the states.
  • Expert committee to advise on National Parks, using funds from Biodiversity Fund.
  • Devolve assessments and approvals under the EPBC Act via bilateral agreements to states: “Simplify EPBC Act 1999…to create a single approvals process for all environmental approvals via the state system.”
  • Tas-specific Major Projects Approval Agency will act as a ‘one stop shop’ for new major projects that require Commonwealth approval.
  • Retain environmental approval powers with federal government. Moved amendments to EPBC Act to remove possibility of delegation of powers to states.
  • Propose a $346m plan, over the forward estimates, to improve environment protection laws, including $123m to extend federal government oversight to all aspects of national environment (including climate, water, national parks and forests), improve monitoring and compliance, capture cumulative impacts, and bolster community rights, and $63m for a review of wetlands management.

Northern Australia – a sustainable, nuclear-free future

Invest in a sustainable future for northern Australia, guided by the findings of the 2009 Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce report, recognise the rights and interests of Indigenous people

Labor Liberal/National Greens
  • ‘Unlock’ northern Australia by cutting the corporate tax rate in the NT and simplifying foreign-investment rules.
  • Open stage 3 of Ord River irrigation scheme.
Coalition White Paper on Developing Northern Australia flags “investigating the establishment of a Water Project Development Fund… including dams and groundwater projects”.
  • Federal environment department to assess wild rivers for national heritage listing and give emergency national protection to rivers under immediate threat.
  • $376.5m for agricultural investment, creation of a Biosecurity Commission, seed funding for renewable projects.

Protect the outstanding natural and cultural values of the Kimberley, Cape York and other special places in northern Australia, based on the free, prior, informed consent of Traditional Owners, including to boost investment in Indigenous Protected Areas and the successful Working on Country (Indigenous Rangers) program.

Labor Liberal/National Greens
Biodiversity Fund North Aust targeted round in 2013 includes proposed investment in Kimberley. $78m for Indigenous Protected Areas management. $23m (in 2011) to acquire land with national environmental significance for joint management with Traditional Owners ($7m still to be committed with Qld govt). $3m (in 2011) to consult on World Heritage nomination for parts of Cape York. Will advance nomination with Traditional Owner consent. Continued support for existing 680 Indigenous Rangers working across Australia. Aims for 730 rangers by June 2015.   $78m for Indigenous Protected Areas management. $50m for land and sea projects under Working on Country.
    • Will produce a White Paper on development of Northern Australia within 12 months. Will abolish Biodiversity Fund.
    • No specific commitments for Kimberley.
    • No specific commitments for Cape York land tenure resolution process or to advance a nomination for World Heritage listing with consent of Traditional Owners.
    • $5m to help protect dugong and turtle populations in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland includes $2 million for Indigenous Ranger marine conservation programs along the north Queensland coast.
    • Will merge Caring for Our Country program with Landcare.
    • Full restoration of funding to Biodiversity Fund, including northern Australia round. Supports a future for the Kimberley without industrialisation.
    • Set up bodies that protect Indigenous heritage and ensure heritage decisions are made by relevant Indigenous people.
    • No specific commitment on investment in joint management for Aboriginal owned National Parks on Cape York, but supports world heritage listing of Cape’s environmental and cultural values with consent of Traditional Owners. $10m/annum over 3 years to protect wild rivers and Indigenous cultural values.
    • Supports “long-term, recurrent, sustainable funding for a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples Land and Sea Ranger Program”. No specific target yet provided for expansion of ranger program.
    • Will double number of Indigenous Rangers over next decade, investing $100m over next 4 years.

    End plans for new or expanded uranium mining, promote responsible radioactive waste management, and commit to withdraw Australia from the dangerous nuclear industry

    Labor Liberal/National Greens
    • Supports planned national radioactive waste facility at Muckaty but has committed not to advance until current Federal Court case concludes.
    • Does not support an independent Commission on radioactive waste management. Voted against Inquiry into uranium mining. Supports increased uranium mining.
    • Supports planned national radioactive waste dump at Muckaty.
    • Does not support an independent Commission into responsible radioactive waste management.
    • Voted against independent Inquiry into uranium mining. Supports increased uranium mining.
    • Opposes a radioactive waste dump at Muckaty.
    • Supports an independent Commission into responsible radioactive waste management.
    • Supports Inquiry into uranium mining.
    • Opposes any further uranium mining in Australia.

    A smart, clean, prosperous economy

    Leverage private investment into clean industries and infrastructure

    Labor Liberal/National Greens
    Leverage private funding into clean energy through CEFC; invest in MDB, ecosystem corridors and marine protected areas. Commitment to investment in clean infrastructure, especially public transport, not clear. All major infrastructure proposals to go through Infrastructure Aust. Investigate Infrastructure Bonds – but emphasis is on roads and new dams. $10bn in road investments identified.  No public transport or rail projects identified. Supports high speed rail, public transport and networks for alternative fuels and electric vehicles. Help superannuation funds invest in public infrastructure. Ambitious investment in protected areas (details above).

    Reduce company and personal income taxes by increasing taxes on natural resource use and pollution

    Labor Liberal/National Greens
    No plans to increase environmental taxes or implement related changes to the broader tax system. Removal of FBT company car concessions a step in the right direction. Overall, carbon price and mining tax revenue will only slightly increase environmental taxes. Liberal commitment to repeal carbon price and mining tax would further reduce environmental taxes and increase Australia’s reliance on productivity taxes. Supports “a shift in taxation that helps restructure the economy by rewarding productive activity that avoids pollution, degradation of natural resources and rent seeking.” Remove fossil fuel subsidies, increase natural resource taxes, levy on coal exports, support clean industries.

    Integrate the value of Australia’s natural assets into our system of national accounts, budget papers, and cost-benefit analysis processes

    Labor Liberal/National Greens
    Did not deliver on previous commitment to introduce sustainability impact assessments for all Cabinet submissions. No public position. Introduce broad measures of genuine national progress including a balance sheet with indicators of ecological sustainability and social wellbeing.

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