SA-BEST believes there is an intrinsic, intertwined relationship between the natural environment, human wellbeing, economic progress and our long-term sustainable future.
South Australia needs to play its part in alleviating the global pressures on the environment, such as climate change, exponential population growth, emissions causing global warming, sustainable use of natural resources and protection from harmful waste and damage to the environment - for example through chemical run off or leaching such as we recently witnessed at the St Kilda mangroves.
With more catastrophic weather and disaster events, we have become even more aware we cannot take our natural environment for granted.
Every scientific report - including the last South Australian State of the Environment Report (2018) - points out the decline in our biodiversity, the increased impacts we are having on our coastal zones, increased pollution, emissions and waste, reduced water flows in rivers and catchment areas, with accompanying changes to acidity, salinity and temperature of our pristine marine environments.
SA-BEST will focus on the following strategic sustainability and environmental priorities:
SA-BEST is committed to supporting legislation which will strengthen our short-term climate targets, including a target of at least 75% reduction in carbon emissions on 2005 levels by 2030 with a view to a target of net zero by 2035.
We will support conservation, restoration and improved land management initiatives with a view to becoming a world leader in natural climate solutions.
Climate change is undeniable. We are seeing the devastating consequences of climate change in more catastrophic weather events and rising sea levels and temperatures.
South Australia is particularly at risk from climate change as we already have extensive pastoral and dry land farming areas which are extremely rain fall dependent, as well as pristine marine environments and fish stocks sensitive to increased salinity and changing temperatures.
Planning and Design Code
SA-BEST supports a comprehensive review of the Planning and Design Code.
As a member of the Legislative Review Committee, SA-BEST MLC Connie Bonaros heard first-hand evidence of the problem-plagued Planning and Design Code.
The review should include further consideration of a stronger response to water and biodiversity design, including an urban water security plan and clearer market signals for the development industry such as heat reduction strategies and urban tree canopy protections.
Protecting Big Trees
SA-BEST supports a review of the Urban Tree Fund, including a review of the exemption process and how the funds are used.
SA-BEST supports a review of the Native Vegetation Act 1991 to investigate the possibility of increased legislative protection and funding for assessment, monitoring and compliance under the Act.
SA-BEST will continue to consult widely on any new draft of the pastoral lands bill.
We note the significant stakeholder concerns in relation to the first draft, including changes to stock maximums and lease terms and safeguards to prevent land degradation. We will also carefully consider the independence and balance of representation of the Pastoral Board.
SA-BEST supports an expansion of our container deposit legislation to include wine and spirit bottles and plastic milk bottles.
We support a national ban on the sale of products containing micro-plastics and micro-beads.
We will continue to support initiatives aimed at reducing the percentage of municipal solid waste going into landfill, including food waste and organics recycling.
While South Australian recycling rates are the best in the nation, the volume of waste generated per person remains unacceptably high with almost 17% of all waste generated going to landfill.
The waste management and resource recover industry is a significant contributor to our state’s economy, with 88% of recycled waste processed here in South Australia.
We are well placed to attract and grow new, potentially high-value added, advanced re-manufacturing enterprises and we are committed to supporting such initiatives.
World Heritage Protection
SA-BEST supports World Heritage protection for the Great Australian Bight.
We also support a review into the possibility of protection for the terrestrial freshwater ecosystems of the Lake Eyre Basin catchment.
We are concerned about the potentially catastrophic consequences of an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight, with South Australia likely to suffer irreversible consequences to its coastal environment, and deep and long-term economic damage.
Water Catchment and Management
SA-BEST is committed to working in close collaboration with our federal colleagues to ensure the Murray Darling Basin Plan returns the equivalent of 3200GL to the environment by the 2024 reconciliation date.
SA-BEST is strongly opposed to Victoria and New South Wales over extracting water from the system and has been outspoken against any politically motivated deals to wind back or disadvantage South Australians impacted by changes made to the Murray Darling Basin plan, including allegations of wrong-doing exposed by independent SA Senator, Rex Patrick, and the subsequent Royal Commission.
We are particularly concerned at the mass fish casualties in our Lower Lakes caused by a lack of fresh water in the system to sustain the fish or to provide water to nearby towns.
All decisions regarding the Murray Darling Basin must be based on scientific evidence as opposed to vested interests.
Most critically, there needs to be greater state and federal government transparency and accountability and a nationalised system of management in which South Australia plays a key role to protect our interests.
SA-BEST will support further legislation seeking to remove disposable and single use plastics and packaging from use to protect our oceans and marine life.
SA-BEST will continue to listen to and support local coastal management advocacy groups such as those at Semaphore and Tennyson who are opposed to sand pumping stations and the further destruction of sand dunes.
South Australia’s coastline stretches for just over 5000 kilometres and has a diversity of sheltered waters, gulfs, bays and open ocean coast.
More than 90% of South Australians live on or near the coast, with many commercial, industrial and recreational activities relying on our coastal and marine resources.
This means, in many cases, our precious coastline is quite literally being loved to death.
Our fragile coastal dunes and beaches, cliffs and estuaries are placed under further stress from development pressure, along with increasing foot, motorbike and vehicular traffic.
On top of that, the effects of rising sea levels will continue to see greater erosion of dunes and loss of beaches at many locations with across the state, along with increases in coastal flooding.
This will not only impact on infrastructure and development, but also coastal ecosystems and habitats and out own coastal lifestyle.
Giant Australian Cuttlefish
SA-BEST is committed to advocating for a reinstatement of the fishing ban of the Giant Australian Cuttlefish in the Upper Spencer Gulf during spawning season.
South Australia's marine life is globally-unique and must be protected.
Around 80% of marine life found in SA waters is not found anywhere else on Earth, with our marine environments more diverse and unique in many ways than the Great Barrier Reef.
South Australian marine waters support more than 6000 invertebrate species, 350 fish species, 16 breeding seabird species, 33 mammal species, 1200 algae species and 12 seagrass species. Our rich diversity of marine life is a result of the unique south-facing coastline, varying oceanographic conditions and the wide variety of coastal and marine environments.
The Marine Park system in South Australia was introduced in 2012 with the aim of conserving marine biodiversity and habitat, within four levels of protection.
Since their introduction, South Australia’s marine parks have not been without controversy. In fact, it has been a vexed issue amongst competing stakeholder groups.
SA-BEST recognised early on the challenges in striking the right balance between protecting our marine environment and growing the opportunities this brings for marine-based tourism, while recognising the critical importance of our world-class, sustainably managed fishing industry.
No political party has invested more time and effort the SA-BEST in working closely with representatives from across the fishing industry in order to understand what unites it, what divides it and what can best assist it.
The same can also be said for the level of commitment we have demonstrated to other sectors with whom the fishing industry has historically competed, namely the conservation sectors.
Following the last election, SA-BEST committed to working collaboratively with the environmental sector and the fishing sector to get the right balance in the lead up to the 2022 statutory 10-year review. And we did!
The result secured an unprecedent, multi-partisan agreement between the fishing sector, the conservation sector and all sides of politics.
This includes no further expansion of the revised marine park network during the statutory review period scheduled for later this year and non-invasive commercial harvesting of abalone within an established marine park.
SA-BEST supports increased landholder stewardship support for landscape revegetation and restoration efforts across the state.
South Australia has many important and endemic species – found nowhere else in the world.
Our biodiversity is critical to human life, helping to regulate air and water quality, mitigate increases in atmospheric carbon, control erosion and pests, pollinate plants, and contribute resources for food, fibre, fuel and medicines.
Renewable energy is our future.
SA-BEST is a strong supporter of storage-based, renewable energy technologies, such as solar thermal, waste to energy and battery storage.
There are many exciting new opportunities for South Australia which will provide affordable, reliable, quality and secure power which is not only good for the environment but also jobs, small business and residents.
SA-BEST will insist on the establishment of a parliamentary committee inquiry into the rollout of Electric Vehicles (EVs), including a massive increase of financial incentives on new car purchases and smart home chargers to encourage uptake.
SA-BEST will push for a diversion of freight away from the South Eastern Freeway and Cross Road via a rail and road corridor behind the Adelaide Hills.
We support the urgent electrification of the South Australian rail network and the transition of the state bus fleet to 100% electric.
SA-BEST supports initiatives to increase public transport accessibility and use, including the extension of the rail network to Mt Barker, Murray Bridge, Aldinga, Virginia and Two Wells.
We will advocate for the construction of a cycling and walking track to link the Royal Adelaide Hospital with North Adelaide and a further expansion of the Greenways network which is currently under construction.
SA-BEST will insist on the establishment of a committee to support our transition to cleaner transport vehicles.
Our state is well placed to benefit from the future uptake of EVs with our manufacturing experience and existing infrastructure.
Manufacturing opportunities extend past just the vehicle build to charging systems, battery replacement and recycling. The training of a skilled workforce which will need to be transitioned from the current fleets also presents opportunities for South Australia.