With just over two weeks to go in this election campaign, momentum is building around the policy positions that all parties will take to the poll. The good news for local government is that the sector’s issues are starting to get onto the campaign agenda of both the Liberal National Party and Labor. While the daily national narrative will always focus on whatever scandal is distracting the leaders (and there have been plenty of them this campaign) or broad policies like tax cuts and climate change, the parties know it is what they promise to do locally that moves many electors.
Over the past few days, announcements by both Labor and the LNP have demonstrated their growing acknowledgement of the importance of local community issues in the campaign. There may not be much interest from the mainstream media on the campaign trail in the future of waste management but it is telling that both major parties have released significant and detailed policies on zero waste over the past few days.
The headline spend in the LNP’s policy, issued today, is a $100 million recycling investment fund to be run through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to encourage production of low emissions, energy efficient recycled goods. This is a greater amount than Labor promised to spend on a similar scheme to promote a domestic recycling industry but having the corporation run it may limit options as to what qualifies for funding.
Overall, however, Labor and the LNP now have detailed platforms explaining where they stand on a zero waste future. Both parties have committed to establishing a Product Stewardship Scheme to tackle recycling of difficult products like batteries, plastic oil containers and the like. Both are committed to reducing food waste, as well as new approaches to packaging regulations.
Of course, this resolve is recognised in the second of the LGAQ’s federal election local community report cards, with both the LNP and Labor now boasting a B plus rating on their commitments regarding waste management.
Indeed, the two major parties have managed to significantly improve their grades between report cards. But there remains a fair way to go to become the top of the class.
For all the sincere rhetoric about climate change and the need to protect the Great Barrier Reef, neither of the major parties feels the need to deal local communities into this challenge. Specifically, there is no commitment to the $57 million that Queensland reef councils need to kick start initiatives on better waste water treatment. Nor have either party said much at all about proper investment in disaster mitigation.
There is talk that the LNP may have more to announce on the issue of remote indigenous housing. And, as flagged in a previous post, Labor is looking closely at how grant funding can be used to maintain jobs in regional areas.
With 18 May still some way off yet and the LGAQ’s final report card yet to be issued, this week’s announcements may not be the last piece of good news local communities will get in tbhsi campaign.