The South West is a unique and beautiful part of Western Australia. Internationally renowned as one of the top 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world it is also a popular destination for tourists and holds a special place in the hearts of most West Australians.
But our South West is under threat. Climate change is having a dramatic impact on the ecosystem with our forests drying out and our water supplies running low. Rainfall patterns have changed significantly over the past 40 years and sea levels along our west coast have been rising at more than double the global average. The South West is already stressed from habitat fragmentation and the changing climate .
Meanwhile regional towns are struggling to survive and new industries are needed to ensure that communities are economically robust.
The Greens have a vision for a resilient South West built on a sustainable economy and powered by renewable energy. It will help reduce our carbon footprint and in turn help reduce the worsening impacts of climate change.
We see biological farming techniques, farmers markets and small micro‐industries bringing wealth to the South West and helping to build healthy communities. Our vision is built on developing new jobs for South West communities while protecting the environment and ensuring the region has sufficient first class health and community services.
The Greens are pushing for a diverse economy in the South West but that does not mean that we need to have coal mining in Margaret River or oil platforms off our beaches. With careful planning and public consultation the South West can be developed to make the best use of its existing environment and to capitalise on its assets such as unique forests and healthy soils.
The Greens vision will see economic activities based on what is distinctive about the South West region. There are already many examples of these kinds of businesses such as fine woodworkers, winemakers, dairies, fruit growers and ecotourism operators.
Local communities should have a say in how their regions are governed. In the South West, this would involve participatory planning processes to shape future growth and development, and provide better local guidance on how funding, such as Royalties for Regions, is spent, with greater cooperation between local governments to achieve the best possible regional solutions to respond to a drying climate.
A Resilient Region
Resilience in regions, as in people, is the ability to withstand difficult times and respond to challenge and change. A key way to increase resilience is to encourage diversity ‐ environmentally, socially and economically. A sustainable and resilient south west would:
• Encourage a diverse range of agricultural endeavours, particularly those featuring more ecologically sustainable production methods such a organic farming.
• Protect and enhance important areas of bushland, including re‐establishing natural corridors such as the Gondwana Link – a project to reconnect 1000km of the South West bushland.
• Ensure that tree farming and carbon farming initiatives are well supported by good economic and scientific advice and that these initiatives supply local industries.
• Help build food security by encouraging farmers markets and other small businesses to thrive and to access local markets for their produce.
• Recognise and protect the biodiversity of the marine environment, with adequate marine parks and the sustainable harvesting of local fisheries.
• Have an economy based on a wide range of businesses, developed on regional distinctiveness and a sense of place.
• Honour the rich agricultural heritage with the development of an even greater diversity of agricultural enterprises.
• Offer a diversity of transport options – with good cycling and walking infrastructure in regional cities and towns, as well as public transport options between and within towns.
• Provide a diversity of educational facilities – with a greater range of tertiary and training options post‐school – to help keep young people in the region. Such as university campus like the UWA campus in Albany and ECU in Bunbury.
• Ensure that there is a diversity of affordable housing options, especially for an ageing population.
• Provide the diverse community services essential for a vibrant and inclusive society, including preventative health services and mental health services.
The South West is well placed to further develop its emerging renewable energy industry.
Renewable energy provides many local advantages while generating safe and sustainable power. Renewable energy is readily decentralised, saving on infrastructure and maintenance costs. It is more flexible and can respond to daily fluctuations in demand, providing smart local power efficiency. Baseload power can be provided through continuous power sources such as wave power, geothermal energy and big solar. This, in combination with a well‐designed geographical mix – choosing the right renewable for the location – can provide us with a clean, green, safe energy future.
Renewable energy projects already established in the South West include: windfarms in Albany and Mt Barker, solar heating of the City of Bunbury South West Sports Complex, and solar panels on private residences. Exciting new developments include the prospect of the Carnegie wave power project off Albany.
Research is showing us that we already have enough plantation timber to meet the nation’s needs and that our forestry industry is running at a loss. The Greens are keen to see an end to all logging of native forests. Instead our remaining old growth and regrowth forests could be used for ecotourism ventures and as carbon stores. Some fine timber would be used for special woodcrafts but logging for woodchips and charcoal would be banned. See the Greens “Our Forests” Initiative.
National Broadband Network
The Greens are encouraging the roll out of the NBN and strongly supporting it as essential nation building infrastructure. The South West will benefit from the better connections and faster speed that the new system will deliver. It will open up better prospects for telecommuting and allow more people to live and work in the South West It will also help deliver better access to health and other services.
THE GREENS VISION FOR THE SOUTH WEST