During the last decade the ACT Labor Party has depended on the ACT Greens to form government.
The logical outcome of this marriage of political convenience between the Greens and Labor should have been a high priority on looking after the city’s urban trees, green spaces, biodiversity and the wonderful environmental aspects that make this city the bush capital.
The ACT Greens gained publicity this year by raising the issue of the 3000 trees that go missing annually across Canberra, mainly due to urban development. There was general support for this push by the ACT Greens to have this addressed by the ACT government.
After being in coalition with Labor for a decade, surely the ACT Greens would have secured the future of our greenery, our biodiversity and would have overseen a growth in green spaces. This has not happened.
Then there was this unfortunate event. The ACT Greens called on governments to sign up to a climate emergency, given that so many damaging things were being done to our natural and built environments. Sounds good?
Weirdly, the Greens staged their media event at Henry Rolland Park. This new archi-park, with its inappropriate hard edges, is the eastern section of West Basin. This is the lake foreshore with proposals endorsed by the ACT Greens/Labor coalition to transform it from an open space composed largely of greenery, trees and biodiversity to a massive apartment suburb with hard lakeside edges.
Did the ACT Greens not see the contradiction with talking about climate emergencies on a site that is about to add to the damage being done to our climate thanks in part to their role in government? Apparently they did not see this.
There are numerous ACT developments that voters once would have expected the Greens to have been out there fighting against. The list includes the threats to the Downer heritage trees, the use of green spaces in Dickson and Chapman for housing (and loss of trees), the imminent removal of about 70 trees for the Dickson supermarket site with no plans to offset this, the West Basin saga that could see hundreds of trees disappear along with important lakeside biodiversity, the proposal to use parklands for an expansion of the Kippax shopping centre, the loss of greenery across suburbs such as Campbell due to inappropriate zoning; new suburb developments that massively restrict (prohibit) shrubbery and trees (shade), and the later stages of the Ginninderry developments that could see housing perched near fire-prone slopes and too close to the Murrumbidgee River.
What politicians are taking responsibility for or are being outraged by what has been happening to our trees, our green spaces and our biodiversity? Not the Greens, not the Liberals and definitely not Labor.
This opinion piece is not meant to be an attack on the ACT Greens but rather an awareness raising of the anxiety people are experiencing as they witness this long-term damage being done right here in Canberra.
There’s a climate emergency happening right here under the auspices of this ACT Labor/Greens coalition government. This government produces spin and loads of meaningless rhetoric about sustainability, but the evidence from what is actually happening points to neglect and a lack of care about how urban developments are not addressing climate issues.
The problem definitely lies on the desks of the numerous (and somewhat useless) planning and urban development ministers – and shared by all those in government and opposition.
Canberra residents urgently need to rethink who we elect. We need to elect ACT and Federal politicians who take Canberra’s cherished green infrastructure seriously. Our politicians need to insist on legislation so that development applications are measured on how they add to the greenery and enhance opportunities to address climate change through urban developments. Are there any ACT Greens, and any other politicians, prepared to act now to address this urgent urban climate challenge?
Who can be trusted?
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Ian Meikle, editor