Paperbark May 2020

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May seems to have disappeared in a flash, but there has been no shortage of environment-related political discussion circulating. In the same month that the Townsville Bulletin reported  (for subscribers only) on a study that found "big potential for growth" in North Queensland's timber industry, we learned that logging of native forests likely worsened the summer bushfires. And while many economists have demonstrated the viability of growth in renewables in our country's pandemic recovery, the Federal Government remains loyal to fossil fuels and land is released for coal and gas exploration in Queensland.

Now for the good news: one-third of Rio Tinto's investors have called for tougher climate change targets; Australia's Reserve Bank has called for a post-pandemic renewables push; a group of young people are taking Clive Palmer to court over his coal mine; Australian researchers are leading the way in solar panel technology development; and Yallambie residents in Mt Isa demonstrate how communities can take charge of caring for their environment.

Needless to say, our job is bigger and tougher than ever before. We're fired up, passionate and we've got our wits about us. To show your support, we ask that you join or renew your membership and consider donating or becoming a monthly donor if you can. Every name and every dollar helps us to face the challenges ahead. 

In this edition:

  • Updates from the team
  • NQCC news:
    • Environment Day Members' Workshop!
    • Award-winning volunteer celebrations
  • Online events & activism opportunities
  • Other news and events


From Simon: Campaigns Manager

On the 26th of May I was excited for the future of conservation in Australia. Prime Minister Scott Morrison used the term ‘Caring for Country’ as his second principle for his JobMaker policy. I quickly realised he had bastardised ‘Caring for Country’, which simply means Indigenous peoples' land and sea management, to fit his political narrative. In the same month, Environment Minster Susan Ley suggested the Government may change our environment laws before the review of the EPBC Act has concluded. We need to strengthen the EPBC Act, not weaken it. We can all remember in 2019 when then Environment Minister Melissa Price approved Adani’s groundwater management plan, despite its major shortcomings. Not to mention the reams of independent scientific advice against the mine over the last decade.

Unfortunately, we cannot trust our so-called leaders with the stewardship of our environment. There are threats at every turn. This is why grassroots organisations such as NQCC are so important. We need to demonstrate to political parties of all persuasions that Australians understand the threats to our environment and we share a desire to protect it for future generations.

Crystal and I are currently working hard on developing NQCC’s campaign asks in preparation for the State Election campaign later this year. To inform this campaign we are calling on all members to join a Zoom workshop to discuss your priority areas for consideration. We hope that you can join us.

From Crystal: Community Campaigner

It's a beautiful time of year here in North Queensland, when usually you would see our faces out and about at our favourite local events, such as EcoFiesta and Palm Creek Folk Festival. Given the circumstances, we've shifted our community engagement online, with charming videos (cleverly produced by Simon) to remind you that our work hasn't stopped and we thrive on your support!

Since launching our Annual Membership Drive just three weeks ago, we have received a heart-warming rush of responses. I'd like to give a special shout out to all of our new members, as well as our new life members! Thank you also to all of our current members who have renewed - your continued support is vital. To maximise our impact on environmental decision-making, we need the backing from as much of our community as possible - that's you!

This year we are relying on our members and supporters not just to join up or renew, but also help us get the word out to build our organisation and our movement. To show our appreciation for your advocacy, for every friend you sign up as a member, you will go into the draw to win a $50 Mary Who? Bookshop voucher! As a recent development, our friends at Mary Who? have generously donated a further $50 towards our membership drive, to reward the individual who signs up the most new members! Both winners will be announced at our AGM, which is scheduled for late September. Annual membership is $20 and expires on the 5th of June 2021 (World Environment Day).

From Tessa: Climate Conversations Project Coordinator

I have been starting to hear from more and more locals about their vision for Townsville, through our wonderful active volunteers as part of the Climate Conversations project. Seeing the momentum building has been really exciting!

I am passionate about getting people motivated to help our wonderful community to protect our region's natural assets. It’s important for our community to be heard, so facilitating engagement and interaction to promote climate action allows that to happen. I’m looking forward to conducting more training sessions in the coming weeks to equip willing participants with the skills they'll need to meaningfully engage on this unnecessarily divisive issue.



Environment Day Members Workshop - have your say!

Have your say this environment day

This World Environment Day (Friday 5 June), we invite our members to join us in a virtual space to share your thoughts and feelings on North Queensland's environmental values and threats, as well as your vision for its future. We will be facilitating discussions around the following three questions:

  • What do you love most about North Queensland's environment?
  • What are your biggest concerns for our environment?
  • What would you like to see in NQCC and North Queensland's future?

This event is open to current members only, so please ensure you join or renew your membership when you RSVP. We want to hear from you!

Congratulations to Liz Downes - "Heart of Volunteering" Award Recipient!

On Thursday 21 May, a small group gathered at NQCC's office to watch the Annual Award ceremony of Volunteering North Queensland (VNQ) – this year held as a virtual event. Attendees represented three organisations – Wildlife Queensland, JCU Library and NQCC – who had together nominated Liz Downes for the Heart of Volunteering Award for 2020. This award is presented each year to someone who “personifies the definition of volunteering”. Anyone who has worked with Liz would agree that this fits her perfectly.

A virtual hug

Pictured: Liz Downes (right) receiving a "virtual hug" from Bronwyn McBurnie from the JCU Library.

Here are just a few statements from her nomination:

"Liz has been volunteering with the Townsville Branch of Wildlife Queensland (formerly Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland) for more than 40 years. Liz is a quiet, unassuming achiever and works determinedly no matter what obstacles are put in her path. Her dignity and quiet resolve under pressure is admirable."

"Liz doesn’t just talk the talk she walks the walk! She is someone who takes actions which are a true reflection her beliefs; making her contribution and support of JCU Library Special Collections tangible and long lasting. She does this in an unassuming way with great enthusiasm, good humour and skill."

A great cheer went up when, towards the end of the ceremony, Liz was announced as the recipient of the VNQ “Heart of Volunteering” Award for 2020!

Congratulations Liz, and thank you for your humble service to North Queensland's environment!


A global pandemic won't stop us from advocating for our environment and being heard! Yes, rallies and events are much more fun than any of this online stuff, but for now it's all that we've got. We urge you to take a minute or two to check out these petitions and add your name to these worthy causes. 

For a Green Recovery for Australia...

by Fridays for Future

Please add the name of your business or organisation to this open letter encouraging the Federal Government to enact a Green Recovery to ensure a prosperous future for all Australians. This involves creating renewable energy projects while avoiding new destructive fossil fuel projects, expansions, bailouts and subsidies. 

For Sustainable Development Post-COVID...

by Wendy Tubman

Please sign this petition to ask the Prime Minister and Member of the Federal Government:

  • to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transition smoothly but rapidly to an economically stronger, environmentally more sustainable and socially more equitable country; and
  • to work with experts, other levels of government and the community to develop and implement plans that re-start an Australia that not only survives but thrives.

For Well-Managed National Parks for Life...

by Queensland Conservation Council

As Queenslanders, we treasure our national parks and with the leadership and consent of First Nations people, call on the Queensland Government to build a bigger and better system of parks and protected areas across the state by:

  • Maintaining the commitment to double the size of Queensland’s protected area system.
  • Investing in well-managed new National Parks to protect species and help rebuild regional tourism.
  • Increasing funding for management of our existing national parks, creating more jobs for Park Rangers and land managers.


Plastic Free Townsville Update: Reusables are back!

Reusable takeaway selfies
Image source: Plastic Free Townsville Instagram

Since COVID-19 transformed our favourite cafes and restaurants to takeaway only, we have seen a marked rise in takeaway litter. Diana from Plastic Free Townsville has been working with businesses throughout this pandemic to help them choose the most environmentally sustainable packaging options to suit their needs. Now, restrictions on reusable items and utensils have been lifted, but many customers aren't aware that this is the case and some businesses are yet to move away from single-use takeaway only.

Plastic Free Townsville encourages you to visit your local cafes and restaurants with reusable coffee cups or utensils and take a selfie doing so to help spread the message! This helps let our community and businesses know that it is safe to use reusable items, while celebrating the businesses that support the sustainable practice.

National Bushfire and Climate Summit: Coordinating a National Response

Bushfire and climate summit 2020

This online summit is presented by Emergency Leaders for Climate Action and the Climate Council and hosted by Kerry O'Brien. It features a panel of Australian and international experts across disaster preparedness, emergency services, climate science and defence. Register your interest so that you can tune in from 6-7.30pm on Tuesday 9 June.

World Bicycle Day: Wednesday 3 June

UN World Bicycle Day logo

World Bicycle Day celebrates the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle and promotes it as a simple, sustainable, reliable, fun and affordable means of transportation.

While some of our readers are already regular cyclists, it can be worthwhile inspiring ourselves and the people around us to ride some more. What better time to dust off the old bike or introduce a friend to cycling than World Bicycle Day? If you do get on your bike, be sure to share a photo to help inspire others!

Green Drinks

Green Drinks

Well, it's that time again! Once again this is an online event - but the countdown is on until we can mingle face-to-face! To celebrate World Oceans Day (Monday 8 June), this month's theme is "Ocean Life". Wear blue, or something marine-themed (or maybe feature your goldfish in the background?) and prepare any ocean-themed photos, jokes, stories and anecdotes you'd like to share. Ensure you RSVP for the Zoom link.

Do you have a petition, action, project or event that you'd like to share with our community? Email Crystal at [email protected] with the details so that we can help you get the word out!

We really do appreciate your support in any and every form that it takes. Your voice matters, and together we will make a difference. 

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  • Alastair Birtles
    Great May Paperbark thank you! Lots of interesting posts about a wide range of NQCC activities. Well done Crystal and the rest of the team!