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To: Malcolm Turnbull

Save the integrity of our Environment Minister: No conflicting portfolios

Prime Minister Turnbull,
I do not support your decision to consolidate the Environment portfolio with the Energy portfolio, and assign these to one Minister. These portfolios represent a conflict of interest and this decision exposes our environment to an unacceptable level of risk. I am requesting you to appoint a well credentialed Environment Minister to protect the interests of our natural and agricultural environments which are essential to sustain Australians for generations to come.

Why is this important?

This week, in a devastating blow to our environment, Malcolm Turnbull has announced his Government will no longer have a sole Environment Minister, and the Environment portfolio will be combined with the Energy portfolio.1 This consolidation of responsibilities represents an unacceptable conflict of interest.2
Furthermore, Malcolm has appointed Josh Frydenberg for this role, a minister who openly supports the expansion of coal mining across Australia, despite his position that there is a “strong moral case” for coal3 is at odds with the policies and research of the World Bank, the UN and the global energy agencies3,4. Of further concern, Frydenberg has said the government was keen to curb “vexatious litigation” from citizens opposed to mining projects over their impact upon the climate, water supplies and threatened species.3 This appointment comes at a time when:
1. The first six months of 2016 has had temperatures ~1.38 °C above average.5
2. 93% of the Great Barrier Reef has been affected by coral bleaching,6
3. Mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria, essential to filtering water from the mainland, and breeding fish, are dying back;7
Josh supported the approval of Adani’s huge Carmichael coal mine in QLD, which will export up to 60m tonnes of coal a year through the Great Barrier Reef. Australians were concerned about this coal mining expansion8 and many anticipated the dredging would impact the reef while Government officials denied it would be affected,9 and now?.. Bleached.
To highlight the conflict of interest between the Environment and Energy portfolios, this month we have seen Rio Tinto trying to sell its massive Blair Athol coal mine for $1 … ultimately transferring the risk & costs for environmental rehabilitation back on the Queensland taxpayer.10
A heartbreaking example of sacrificing our environment for the interests of coal mining companies is the handover this month of historical “Tarwyn Park”, the home of ‘Natural Sequence Farming’, to a Korean owned coal mining company; now, the farm of Peter Andrews, who was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for “service to conservation and the environment through the development and promotion of sustainable farming practises” will become an open cut coal mine. 11
Shale gas fracking, overseen by the Energy Minister, is known to be detrimental to the environment; "from contaminated water, to marred landscapes, to increased global warming pollution, fracking has been an environmental disaster".12 Despite this, the Never Never region of the Northern Territory is poised to be fracked.13
Without a dedicated Environment minister, Australians facing genuine environmental concerns on the frontline risk having no receptive representation at the Federal level to turn to. On a daily basis our agricultural and rural communities are facing threats from mining, for example:
• Bulga residents have fought for six years to save their town from the Warkworth coal mine expansion. 14 They won two court cases against the project, but Rio Tinto and the NSW Government joined forces against them, and re-approved the mine. Now, Bulga residents are out of options ~ wouldn’t it be appropriate if they had a Federal Environment Minister they could turn to who didn’t also directly support the very industry that is threatening them?
• In the Pilliga forest, Santos aim to drill 850 coal seam gas wells.15 Despite insisting CSG projects pose no threat to our water supply, Santos has poisoned an aquifer in the Pilliga Forest.16 Now, the aquifer is filled with uranium at 20 times the safe drinking water levels, with elevated levels of arsenic, lead, aluminium, nickel, barium and boron. Their planned Narrabri Gas Project risks the Great Artesian Basin, a lifeline for many of the driest parts of Australia representing future water security for many. How can one Minister be legitimately and fairly responsible both for the mining and the environment in this situation?
We demand an Environment Minister who understands the gravity of climate change, and acknowledges the urgent need to effectively protect our land & water to sustain Australians for generations to come. Keeping this portfolio with Josh Frydenberg, a vocal advocate for coal, who is also responsible for the Energy portfolio, presents an unacceptable conflict of interest.
1. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-18/malcolm-turnbull-unveils-new-look-ministry/7638492
2. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/combined-energy-and-environment-portfolio-for-josh-frydenberg-a-huge-blow-for-great-barrier-reef-20160718-gq89eo.html
3. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/oct/18/josh-frydenberg-puts-strong-moral-case-for-coal-exports-to-prevent-deaths
4. http://m.huffingtonpost.com.au/edward-cavanough/coal-wont-solve-energy-poverty-renewables-will/?utm_content=buffer9fbf9&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
5. http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/month/aus/summary.shtml
6. https://www.coralcoe.org.au/only-7-of-the-great-barrier-reef-has-avoided-coral-bleaching/
7. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queenslands-mangrove-ecosystem-dying-in-secret-20160515-govikm.html
8. http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2011/11/03/3355047.htm
9. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-20/julie-bishop-chides-barack-obama-over-climate-change-remarks/5906570
10. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-12/rio-tinto-selling-massive-queensland-coal-mine-for-dollar/7588916
11. http://tarwynpark.com/
12. http://www.ecowatch.com/10-years-of-fracking-its-impact-on-our-water-land-and-climate-1891114363.html
13. http://nationalunitygovernment.org/content/rinehart-and-shale-gas-companies-licensed-frack-indigenous-and-pastoral-land
14. http://www.singletonargus.com.au/story/3487977/rally-to-save-bulga/
15. http://www.csgfreenorthwest.org.au/
16. http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/2137939/santos-fined-1500-uranium-at-20-times-safe-levels


Reasons for signing

  • This is a mad conflict of interest. When will our Environment Ministers ever actually give a toss about our environment or champion conservation??
  • The 2 portfolios conflict
  • Prevention is better than cure.

Updates

2016-07-24 16:22:10 +1000

100 signatures reached

2016-07-23 13:34:09 +1000

50 signatures reached

2016-07-23 08:39:44 +1000

25 signatures reached

2016-07-22 22:31:11 +1000

10 signatures reached