I am an advocate for evidence based policy that promotes sustainability and social justice.
“Nature is essential for human existence and good quality of life. Around 25 per cent of species in assessed animal and plant groups are threatened, suggesting that around 1 million species already face extinction” – Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services, United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES 2019).
All human life is dependent on our planet’s biosphere, which encompasses the land, oceans, atmosphere and living ecosystems. Through an intricate web of physical and ecological processes, it regulates our climate and sustains the quality of our air, water and soils on which all plant and animal life depends. It provides essential services such as food, clothing, medicines and wood products, as well as non-material values such as beauty, inspiration, learning and cultural identity.
Scientific studies across the world are revealing that human practices are causing unprecedented global changes in our biosphere, including loss of native habitats, declining diversity and abundance of native species, introduction and spread of invasive alien species, climate change and pollution. These changes threaten the sustainability of our biosphere.
The human population has doubled in the last 50 years, along with a 400% growth in the global economy and a 1,000% increase in global trade. At the same time, inequality in human access to resources and wealth are causing social, political and economic problems around the world and contributing to global instability. Evidence based policy has been turned into its opposite, policy based evidence, where political organisations and/or interest groups capture and control knowledge-gathering processes to support policies that maintain environmentally destructive practices.
As an ecologist, I have witnessed the impacts of human development on our Australian ecosystems and biodiversity, but have also participated in projects that contribute to the restoration and functioning of natural ecosystems. I believe that the application of human ingenuity, scientific innovation and the implementation of evidence based policy can reverse these negative trends and achieve a sustainable biosphere for future generations.
Environment and biodiversity
I recognise that human existence is dependent on the sustainable management of our environment, including our soils, water, air, ecosystems and native biodiversity. As an ecologist, I have worked on a wide variety of environmental projects, including ecological research, planning and implementation of nature conservation projects, environmental assessment of industrial and resource developments and monitoring of development and restoration works. I have a working knowledge of environmental legislation at local, state and federal levels. I understand the need for strong unified regulation to ensure that our natural resources and our economic wellbeing are managed sustainably.
I support the development of an Environmental Protection Authority that will manage potential environmental impacts of proposed development using the best available scientific evidence. This agency should be independent of corporate or political influence.
I support an overhaul of the current federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999to improve protection of nationally significant values and manage critical threatening processes such as climate change, habitat loss and alteration of environmental water flows. I also acknowledge the importance of consistent regulation and will promote harmonisation of legislation to improve management of significant environmental values at local, state and federal levels.
Recognising the value of native vegetation to biodiversity, ecosystem functions and carbon sequestration, I will work to end broad scale clearing of remnant native vegetation across all jurisdictions.
I will pursue the implementation of a national riparian management and rehabilitation program, in recognition of its value as nationally important natural infrastructure and its role in carbon sequestration, catchment processes, climate resilience and biodiversity dividends.
Acknowledging the role of reafforestation in meeting the carbon sequestration needed for a viable climate future, I will work toward the establishment of a National Reafforestation Authority that works across jurisdictions to establish reafforestation targets, underpinned by carbon sequestration, regional biodiversity, timber production and climate impact resilience objectives.
Accepting the vastness of Australia’s rangelands, the potential role they can play in climate change mitigation and the area of these lands under traditional ownership, I will work toward the establishment of a national rangeland management authority and permanent funding for Indigenous Ranger management programs.
Recognising the amount of sea level rise locked into our climate system and the disruption this will create for coastal ecosystems, I will seek the establishment of a federal program dedicated to the managed succession of coastal ecosystems that will be impacted by sea level inundation and storm surge events. This will maintain essential ecosystem services and provide opportunities for enhanced carbon sequestration.
Acknowledging that intact natural ecosystems provide one of the best forms of resilience to emerging climate impacts, I will seek government support for the further expansion of the national reserve system, including Indigenous Protected Areas and Commonwealth Marine Parks.
The Great Barrier Reef is a national icon which has priceless aesthetic value and creates significant revenue and employment for Australians. I support increased funding for reef management, monitoring and research, especially those which inform our knowledge of how the reef is coping with rapid climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. I support coastal management programs which improve the quality of water entering the GBR region from the mainland catchments.
The collaborative work of thousands of climate scientists around the world have demonstrated unequivocally that climate change is occurring and that the global environment, economy and society will be increasingly impacted without effective and immediate action. I support the ICAN Climate Action Policy platform, including the following actions.
I stand for honestly informing the Australian public of our climate change predicament and taking effective action based on the science. I also stand for developing pragmatic solutions, working across multiple stakeholder interests.
I will work to ensure that Australia fulfils or betters its commitments under the Paris Agreement as part of collaborative global efforts to limit mean global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrialisation levels. As part of meeting these global commitments, I will advocate that Australia reduces overall emissions by 50% by 2030 and works towards zero net emissions by 2050.
I will support government and industry investment frameworks that will take our nation to a 100% renewable energy generation in the electricity sector by 2030. This path excludes any support for new coal generation (including the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine and other Galilee Basin coal mines).
I will support the re-establishment of funding to the Climate Council to provide independent, scientifically based advice to government.
I will promote the extension of government funding available to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
I will support government policy initiatives that lead to the managed cessation of the fossil fuel industry. This includes opposing Adani Carmichael Coal Mine and any other new fossil fuel development. Recognising that this will impact on workers in the fossil fuel industry, I will seek funding for the equitable retraining of workers to take advantage of the expanding opportunities in the renewable energy sector and other sectors of the Australian economy.
Recognising that electricity generation only represents around a third of Australia’s current emissions, I will support government programs and incentives that address all other sectors including land use, agriculture, industry and transport.
I will seek government support for carbon farming, re-afforestation, regenerative agriculture and blue carbon programs to massively increase carbon sequestration.
I will support investment in science and technology to deliver global-scale carbon drawdown projects and other clean energy initiatives.
Recognising that climate change is already occurring and that many impacts including sea level rise are already locked in, I will promote Government planning and investment to support Australia’s adaptation and resilience to unavoidable impacts.
I believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as proclaimed by the United Nations. All people in Australia and the world should have access to adequate and affordable housing, food, water, education, and health care, while living in inclusive societies and communities that offer security, opportunities for dignified employment, and access to parks and nature reserves that have been set aside from development in order to facilitate the essential connection between human beings and the natural environment.
I promote the introduction of a bill of rights to protect the rights of all people in Australia.
I recognise the sovereign rights of Australia’s indigenous people, and I acknowledge the past and present suffering of those people caused by the traumatic dispossession of their land. I am a supporter of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and will support policies that aim to address the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous communities with respect to life expectancy, child mortality, education, and employment.
I will support policies that improve women’s social and economic rights and enable them to participate fully and equally in Australian society. This includes closing the gender pay gap, increasing access to affordable child care and tackling the poverty facing disadvantaged women including single mothers, indigenous women, older women, women with disabilities, and women facing domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace and community.
I acknowledge that changing climate and growing social instability across the world will lead to increased movement of human populations and rising numbers of refugees. I believe that Australia has a responsibility not to contribute further to people’s suffering, and thus call for an end to long-term offshore detention of asylum seekers. I will promote collaborative discussions with UNHCR, and Indonesia, Malaysia and other Asia Pacific nations to establish a regional approach to managing the movement and resettlement of asylum seekers and sponsoring repatriation when possible.
As an ecologist, I am aware that Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent and has already suffered significant land degradation and loss of biodiversity as a result of unsustainable human development. I therefore support the development of a sustainable population policy for Australia, which is informed by science, and reduces our immigration levels back to more sustainable, longer-term average levels while acknowledging our capacity to increase our humanitarian intake of refugees.
I recognise that Australia has a steadily aging population demographic due to improved family planning and rising life expectancies. I support the development of evidence based policies that improve national aged care and allow older people to participate in society more effectively (e.g. more liveable cities with accessible facilities, improved social services for older people, addressing age discrimination).
I recognise the need to strengthen the independence of integrity institutions such as statutory officeholders (information commissioners, human rights commissioners). I support the establishment of a national Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
I am concerned by the undue influence of interest groups that provide large donations to political parties. I will support legislation that ensures all donations to political parties are subject to comprehensive auditing and public scrutiny. I will also seek support within parliament for a ban on donations from fossil fuel companies to political parties.
I am an advocate for an effective national publicly funded health system. All people should have access to quality health care, including primary health care and preventive health programs.
I believe public health expenditure is an investment in our social capital. I support the national Medicare system and will seek increased funding for publicly funded dental health, mental health, aged care and the NDIS.
I support increased resourcing for health care professionals and for skills and training supporting their professions. I also support increased funding and resources for medical research.
I support greater investment in mental health services, including the early detection, assessment, support and treatment of mental illness through hospital and community-based services. I also recognise that as the climate crisis unfolds, there will be a need for increased mental health extension services to meet growing climate-related mental stress in the Australian community.
I will support the outcomes of the Royal Commission into the aged care sector and will seek increased funding for aged care services.
I believe it is a human right to choose dignity in death and support a national euthanasia policy that allows voluntary euthanasia with appropriate medical and psychological supervision.
I believe that Australia’s current national drug strategy focuses too heavily on supply reduction and demand reduction, while ignoring harm reduction initiatives such as drug testing, safe consumption facilities and drug education and rehabilitation programs. I support a harm minimisation strategy that treats drug use as a health issue, not a crime.
I support effective family planning services, including education, counselling and contraception. Family planning empowers women to choose the number and spacing of their children and is central to gender equality and human rights. I also support the right of all women to access legal, safe and free pregnancy termination services.
Education and employment
I believe that equitable access to education is essential to maintain and nurture a healthy, productive and sustainable society. I advocate a fully funded public education system from early childhood through to tertiary levels.
I support the establishment of an independent national Evidence Institute for Schools that will research effective educational practices, understand the current state of practice and identify the most successful ways to help teachers implement evidence-informed practices.
I support demand driven funding for universities and TAFE to ensure investment in the future skills that Australia needs to develop an innovative zero emissions future.
I believe we need additional investment in the promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects within the Australian school curriculum to meet the challenges of Australia’s future and public education programs. This will increase citizen literacy in science and public understanding of those challenges.
I support the development of federal government programs that support the re-skilling and translocation of workers affected by the economy’s transition from the fossil fuel industry.
I recognise that underemployment is a growing concern in Australian society and that social security benefits for unemployed people are now well below the poverty line. I will promote research and trials into options to address this issue. An effective method adopted overseas is the living wage, which sets a socially acceptable minimum wage that can be indexed to a relevant index of living standards such as average wages. Another innovative option being trialled in other nations is a basic universal income, which gives every citizen a basic obligation-free living wage to meet their living costs. This system can reduce financial stress and improve the physical and mental health of underemployed people (a sector likely to rise with increasing automation).
I believe that financial inequality is a rapidly growing challenge in Australian society. I stand for a strong and environmentally sustainable economy that serves the Australian people equitably. I also stand for economic diversification and value adding that fully capitalises on the economic potential of Australia’s human and natural resource base.
I support policies to limit tax refunds on franking credits. However, I accept that many individuals have planned their retirement funds on the basis of these arrangements and I therefore support the ‘grandfathering’ of existing financial plans where possible.
I do not support negative gearing and other perverse incentives that impact home affordability for first home buyers. However, the existing financial arrangements of individuals should be ‘grandfathered’ where possible.
I support recommendations coming from the Banking Royal commission for better consumer protection and to enforce greater integrity into the banking and finance sectors. I also believe we need stronger punitive measures including criminal convictions for CEOs to avoid future malpractice.
I will encourage the measurement of “quality of life” indices in addition to the accepted economic measures of gross domestic product to measure genuine societal progress.
Australia has the knowledge, expertise and renewable energy resources to reinvigorate a manufacturing sector that serves our renewable energy transition, to support a clean energy export industry, and to become a renewable energy superpower in our region.
I support the use of powerful market mechanisms, including a market-based carbon price, to promote the transition toward our renewable energy and zero emissions future.
I will support the development of processing, manufacturing and recycling industries in renewable energy zones around the nation.
I will seek to increase government investment in research, development and commercialisation of Australian innovation in science and technology. I also believe that there are major commercial opportunities associated with supporting the transition to a low carbon future in heavy industry, construction and transport.
I am against the privatisation of government assets that provide important and essential services to all Australians.
I support a fair, graduated tax system. I believe we need better taxation laws to reduce systematic tax avoidance by large Australian companies and multinational corporations and to move the tax burden away from small businesses and employees.
Australia’s transition to a zero emissions economy will require the development and construction of infrastructure, including renewable energy production, storage and transmission systems; zero emission transport and industry; and carbon capture systems. These infrastructure programs have the potential to revive our manufacturing sector and promote replacement industries for workers currently dependent on the fossil fuel industry.
I support major public investment and incentive schemes in renewable energy infrastructure as a priority for Australia. This includes medium to large scale renewable energy projects; electricity transmission networks to serve existing and new demands such as electric vehicles and prioritised renewable energy zones; and medium to large scale energy storage systems such as pumped hydro, compressed air, battery, hydrogen and thermal storage systems.
I do not support the construction of large scale dams that cause irreversible harm to natural river flows, riparian ecosystems and ground water reserves. Similarly, the benefits of large scale pumped hydro schemes using natural waterways need to be carefully weighed against their impacts on the natural environment.
I support ongoing investigations into the feasibility of a high-speed rail network to link the major population centres of eastern Australian, as a zero emissions alternative to aviation transport.
I support major development and upgrading of public transport infrastructure for our population centres and will promote the establishment of a federal Public Transport Authority to guide national planning and investment. I also support effective urban planning and development to provide sustainable liveable cities that are energy efficient, healthy, safe, resilient to the impacts of future climate change and have low environmental impacts.
Infrastructure investment occurs over long time scales and should be integrated with a sustainable population policy. I will support the creation of a federal department of Population and Infrastructure Planning to develop a national population policy and plan infrastructure to support projected demands.
Infrastructure planning will be required to address the impacts of climate change that emerge with each passing decade, including rising sea levels and increased severe weather events and fires. I will promote the development of national and regional strategies to deal with planned coastal protection and retreat; floodplain town protection and relocation; and infrastructure to cope with extreme climatic events.