Smart Green Growth Requires Investment
An effective recovery from COVID-19 requires on the ground investment in projects that will bring immediate employment benefits and lasting environmental benefits.
Federated Farmer has written to Ministers outlining a range of practical, on the ground initiatives that could provide employment and environmental benefits post COVID19, building on existing work.
"We need efficient and effective investment which provides both immediate benefits but also lasting environmental outcomes," Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.
"Our approach to improving the environment needs to recognise the importance of a robust and strong recovery from COVID-19, to mitigate the economic and social impacts.
"The situation has changed significantly since regulatory proposals in respect to freshwater, biodiversity and climate change were released. Our responses to these challenges need to reflect this new reality."
This doesn’t mean those in the primary industries seek to do nothing, Allen said.
"We’re already well committed to a path of ongoing environmental improvements. Farmers will continue with their own farm investment in environmental mitigation and enhancement, including investment in better practices, systems and infrastructure."
What’s needed now is investment that will deliver genuine win-wins, delivering better environmental outcomes at low cost.
"There are existing regulations in place for all of these issues. Our focus needs to be on adding to what is already underway in an effective and focused manner."
Federated Farmers told Ministers these ‘bang for buck’ measures should start with prioritising areas where we know there are urgent issues, whether they’re in rural or urban areas.
"For example, funding to improve urban and commercial sewage discharges, rural and urban water supplies, and stock drinking water in rural areas will achieve environmental outcomes while providing stimulus to the economy," Allen said.
"Funding for native plantings and biodiversity work such as planting, pest control and fencing is an investment with immediate employment benefits and a long-term payoff for the environment. With government support a lot more progress could happen now, providing additional work for those needing jobs."
The Taskforce Green model used following climatic adverse events may be a useful template to get the work done and train people in new skills at the same time. Funding and support for existing and new catchment groups is another action that will result in immediate benefit.
"Developing and supporting a farmer led catchment group will cost in the vicinity of $100,000 per year. That’s a great return for a platform that promotes innovative, focused and practical solutions, and we’re already seeing improved environmental outcomes through farmer engagement in catchment groups."