Environment News Service (ENS)

Australia Votes: Scorecard Fails Major Parties on Environment

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Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

SYDNEY, Australia, October 17, 2007 (ENS) - The Australian Conservation Foundation's first assessment of the main political parties' climate and environment policies gives both Liberal and Labor a score below 50 percent.

The scorecard compiled by Australia's largest environmental group rates the policies of the Liberal/National Coalition, Labor, the Greens, the Democrats and Family First on climate change, water and the environment.

'While Labor has committed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and the Coalition hasn't, in total the major parties are failing on climate change and the environment,' said Australian Conservation Foundation Executive Director Don Henry.

'Modest or weak climate change policies, a poor performance on forests and a lack of action on water and sustainable cities means both major parties have low scores.

'We are hearing a lot of talk and not seeing enough action on climate change from both major parties. The Greens and Democrats are scoring well, while Family First's scores are poor,' he said.

'All parties and candidates should be in no doubt climate change will be a huge consideration when Australians vote on November 24,' said Henry.

The 2007 election for the federal Parliament of Australia will take place on Saturday, November 24. Prime Minister John Howard announced the date on Sunday.

Henry said, 'The big questions for politicians who want to be taken seriously on climate change are: Do they support strong binding targets to cut emissions? Will they legislate to massively boost the amount of electricity sourced from clean, safe renewables? And will they ratify the Kyoto Protocol?'

'We urge all parties to achieve a ‘high distinction' on climate and environment by campaign's end – our children's future deserves nothing less,' he said.

'ACF is strictly non-party political we do not advocate a vote for any particular party or candidate. But we are vigorously and unashamedly pro-environment.'

The ACF scorecard will be updated every week during the election campaign to reflect new commitments from the parties.

Meanwhile, Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, says the leaders' debate next Sunday between Labor and the Coalition is a 'snub' to the one in 10 Australians who vote for Greens and others.

There should be three election debates with three leaders, Brown said today.

'There are many issues where Labor and the Coalition have exactly the same position - opposition to a $30 a week pension increase, support for the pulp mill, support for logging old-growth forests, keeping the private health insurance rebate and more coals mines and uranium exports. The Greens are the real opposition and should be included in the debates,' said Brown.

'The plan to have a 50-50 Labor Coalition audience in the Great Hall next Sunday is an unacceptable snub to the more than 10 percent of Australian voters who vote for the Greens and others. Canada has three-way debates and it provides the public with a much fairer and more diverse set of opinions,' Senator Brown said.

To publicize their positions, the Greens will host a Parliament House People's Forum next Sunday night. The Greens forum will be in the Parliament House Theatrette, upstairs from the Leaders Debate in the Great Hall.

'The Howard-designed Leaders' Debate with Rudd will lock-out millions of Australians who will not vote for the Coalition or Labor. The debate audience will be 50 percent Coalition voters, 50 percent Labor voters only,' Senator Brown said.

Parliamentary technology permitting, the Greens will stream the People's Forum live to Australia via the internet.

The Australian Labor Party is taking aim at the incumbent Coalition Howard government's plan to build 25 nuclear power plants across Australia.

A website detailing the government's nuclear program was launched by Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water Anthony Albanese and Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Environment Peter Garrett, a former executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Federal Labor is opposed to nuclear reactors in Australia.

When asked about where the nuclear reactor power plants would be built, Prime Minister Howard said in February, 'I am not ruling out power stations anywhere in this country.'

Howard's position was unanimously supported by the Liberal Party at its Federal Council in June.

The resolution states that the Liberal Party, 'Believes that nuclear power is the most significant component of an immediate response to climate change and calls on the Australian Government to introduce a technical and regulatory scheme, including appropriate environmental and operation safeguards, and any other measures necessary for the development and provision of nuclear power on a market driven basis.'

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