I hope this finds you well!
I have just returned from the Queensland Environment Minister's Roundtable - the first for the new Minister, Leanne Linard. Here, we pushed for strong leadership on climate and habitat protection, and walked the new Minister through the detail and nuance of our issues. Linard listened intently, and left with a clear understanding of the state of Queensland's environment and the strength of our movement.
We have plenty of updates for you in this edition of Paperbark, so please dive in and enjoy!
- Crystal, NQCC Coordinator
In this edition:
- NQCC Updates
- Meeting with Aaron Harper
- South Townsville Walking Tour a hit!
- Community Alliance update
- Green Drinks: reusables report
- NQCC AGM: save the date!
- Nature Protection
- National Parks growing in NQ
- Phil's Bush Cleanup makes national news
- Townsville's Tree Policy under threat
- "The Giants" film screening by Townsville Cinema Group
- Energy Transition
- Renewable Energy Zone consultation
- Water and Reef
- Townsville Water Quality Report Card
- The Biophysics of the Reef: webinar
- Indigenous Voice to Parliament
Meeting with Aaron Harper MP
Recently, our Coordinator met with Aaron Harper to discuss how we come together to progress regional and statewide environmental priorities (including the establishment of an independent EPA for Queensland!).
While Townsville locals know him as the MP for Thuringowa, he is also Chair of Queensland's Health and Environment Committee, providing a great opportunity for us to learn from one another. We look forward to working closely together for meaningful outcomes for nature, along with Queensland's Environment Minister, Leanne Linard.
South Townsville Walking Tour
Our recent Walking Tour of South Townsville, organised by Peter Hanley, was a delightful event! The tour included many interesting environmental and historical features. We look forward to organising similar events in future, so please contact us with your ideas or offers of local expertise!
Townsville Community Alliance Update
The Townsville Community Alliance has continued to grow, learn and come together to progress our agenda for the common good!
Throughout May and June this year, more than 200 Townsville locals shared stories about the pressures facing them and their families. Everyone who shared a story was then invited to a discernment, to help decide which pressures were felt both widely and deeply. These issues were divided into themes, which became the basis for two organising teams:
1. "Real jobs for sustainable living" - addressing cost of living, climate impacts and resilience and access to local jobs;
2. "Safe and connected communities" - encompassing access to services, crime and safety, access to housing and racial discrimination.
The next step is for the teams to undertake "research actions" - meeting with experts to explore possible solutions. if you'd like to get involved, reply to this email and we'll get back to you in the coming weeks with more information.
Green Drinks @ Grill'd
Join us in the Burger Garden at Grill'd in South Townsville from 6pm on Friday 15 September for our monthly Green Drinks!
With the recent release of the Boomerang Alliance's Reusables Report, we'll be hearing from Plastic Free Townsville Coordinator Diana Condylas about what changes we've seen here over the past few years, what changes we can expect to see in future and what opportunities exist for us to be leaders in plastic reduction! We can also use this opportunity to celebrate the expansion of Queensland's single us plastic ban!
Green Drinks is a space for networking, connecting and sharing. Newcomers are always warmly welcomed!
NQCC AGM: Save the date!
Save the date! We will be holding our AGM on the evening of Wednesday 4 October. If you are a current member, you will receive more details in the coming weeks. Non-members are welcome to attend, but only current members can vote on motions. Visit our membership page to renew your membership or sign up!
Read on for campaign specific updates from NQCC and around North Queensland...
National Parks Growing in NQ
Photo source: Leanne Linard MP via Facebook
As part of the Queensland Government's commitment to growing our state's protected areas, 8000ha have been acquired near Hughenden, adjacent to another recent land acquisition. It's great to see North Queensland's ecologically important places receiving long-term protection!
Phil's Bush Cleanup Makes National News
In our last edition of Paperbark, we gave a shoutout to the great work of Phil and his volunteer crew, who have been tackling illegally dumped rubbish, making the Port Access Reserve a safer and healthier place for wildlife and locals alike.
After a morning accompanied by a local ABC journalist, Phil's efforts featured in brilliant news stories all over the country!
We are proud to support this work, and grateful for the financial support of the Queensland Government's Community Sustainability Action Grant that has allowed Phil's crew to remove 75 tonnes of illegally dumped rubbish as part of Operation Habitat Auto.
Tree Policy Under Threat
Photo source: Townsville Bulletin
We are disappointed to see poor transparency and communication by Townsville City Council in recent weeks, with regards to the decision to remove an old milky pine in Queens Gardens. We are also concerned by the suggestion that their Public Tree Policy should be reviewed to remove/reduce community consultation. We will be following up with Council to ensure protection for our valued and important urban forest.
Thank you to all of the active members of the Townsville Tree Advocacy Group who have spoken up and kept the pressure on!
"The Giants" Film Screening
On Thursday 5 October, the Townsville Cinema Group is showing "The Giants" - a film about Bob Brown and his mighty conservation efforts as both a private citizen and a government minister.
Admission is $15 each for a double bill of films at BCC Cinemas on Little Fletcher St, with the Survival of Kindness starting at 7pm and The Giants starting at 9.10pm. The Townsville Cinema Group is a lively bunch of film fans who would love to have you along.
CLIMATE & ENERGY TRANSITION
A few weeks ago, CommBank released a new climate policy, ruling out direct finance for all new and expanded oil and gas extraction projects, as well as some critical infrastructure like pipelines to new oil and gas fields. This was in response to massive pressure from organisations (like NQCC), customers and other supporters, coordinated by Market Forces. You can use their online tool to tell Australia’s other major banks to step up!
In response to strong feedback from Queensland's conservation sector, the Queensland Government is reviewing State code 23, used to assess the development of wind farms. We have made a submission to this, with support from QCC and CAFNEC, which you can read here.
Here in NQ, proposed Gawara Baya Upper Burdekin wind farm has been approved by the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA), but has yet to receive environmental approvals from the Federal Government. It was referred through the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act due to the presence of threatened species in the project area, including Sharman's rock wallaby and Red goshawk.
The Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner (AEIC) is leading a review into community engagement practices and social licence for renewable energy infrastructure. You can learn more about that here.
Finally, for a succinct take on Queensland's renewable energy transition, watch this six-minute clip of QCC Director Dave Copeman on the Bolt Report. It's surprisingly entertaining.
Renewable Energy Zone Consultation
Map source: https://www.epw.qld.gov.au/about/initiatives/renewable-energy-zones/rez-roadmap/northern-REZs
The Queensland Government has released the draft 2023 Queensland Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap for consultation to support the coordination of the growth of renewable energy and transmission. Again, we will be engaging closely in this consultation process, but you are also encouraged to make your own submission with feedback to the draft roadmap by Friday 22 September.
WATER & REEF
UNESCO has chosen to delay a decision to declare the Great Barrier Reef "in danger". You can read the ABC article here. We know that the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is under threat, particularly from climate change, and hope that the global spotlight on this will lead to more ambition from the Queensland and Australian Governments to stop approving fossil fuel projects and show true climate leadership.
To learn all about how the Magnetic Island catchment works, and explore its natural values, check out the Magnetic Island Catchment Story!
Dry Tropics Water Quality Report Card
Last month's Green Drinks featured a splash of blue, with some of the Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters team present to share their most recent water quality report card!
We love the collaborative local efforts of this Partnership, and their brilliant way of presenting science in a way that is engaging and useful for community members and politicians alike!
The Physics Behind the Biophysics of the Reef
Professor Eric Wolanski will be delivering a talk on "The physics behind the biophysics of the Great Barrier Reef" at 10pm on Thursday 7 September. This will be available online. Register using the form below (you will need to be logged into a Google account) to receive the login details.
INDIGENOUS VOICE TO PARLIAMENT
Last week, PM Anthony Albanese announced the referendum date: 14 October 2023. This means Australians now have six weeks to decide whether to write "yes" or "no" on their ballot paper.
Here in North Queensland, Indigenous leaders and conservationists are adding their perspectives on the Voice and what it could mean for them and their work. Click here to hear from Uncle Eddie Smallwood and Cliff Cobbo.
Keen to get out and about in nature? Check out our Volunteer Opportunities and List of Environmental Organisations to find something that fills your cup! From planting trees to sorting debris, there's something for everyone!
Thank you for your ongoing support!
North Queensland Conservation Council