Author Archives: Michael

Update 8: Aldinga Washpool

SA Government media release: https://www.premier.sa.gov.au/news/media-releases/news/aldinga-washpool-officially-saved-for-future-generations

Reproduced below:


21/01/2022 | Steven Marshall MP | David Speirs MP
A new 340-hectare park in Adelaide’s south is set to become a coastal environmental, recreational and cultural haven for generations to come, with the official proclamation of the Aldinga Conservation Park.

The Aldinga Washpool, one of Adelaide’s last remaining coastal freshwater and estuarine lagoon systems, has now been combined with the adjacent Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park to create the state’s newest conservation park.

Premier Steven Marshall said the proclamation was a significant milestone for the local community and supporters.

“By combining the Aldinga Washpool land with the nearby Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park it’s created a fantastic new ecological and cultural haven just south of Adelaide,” Premier Marshall said.

“This adds to my government’s commitment to protect our state’s natural environment by doubling the area covered by national parks, investing record levels of funding to improve conservation, increase visitor numbers and boost our regional economies.

“Importantly the Aldinga Washpool site is of considerable spiritual and cultural significance to the Kaurna people who today maintain their connection with Country.”

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the local community had long advocated for better protection of the site.

“In 2018, an Aldinga Washpool Working Group was established, and we have been working closely with this group to ensure the land’s environmental and cultural values are protected and restored,” Minister Speirs said.

“For years the future of the Aldinga Washpool was under threat so it’s incredibly pleasing for the local community to be able to see this important site saved for future generations.

“This further adds to our record expansion of area protected in South Australia, which has seen us increase the number of national parks across the state from 21 to 29 and double the area protected from approximately 3.90 million hectares to just over 7.9 million hectares.

“This record expansion is backed up by the biggest ever government investment in parks to boost conservation as well as improve our standing as a world-class eco-tourism destination

“Adelaide has been recognised as the third most liveable city in the world and it was recently named as the second-ever National Park City and our record expansion of parks and green space will only enhance this reputation.”

The Aldinga Washpool includes valuable habitat for at least 79 native species, including three bird species of national conservation significance. It is also home to swamp plants of conservation significance including threatened coastal saltmarsh.

Prior to European settlement, the Aldinga Washpool was an important place for curing and drying possum skins by the Kaurna people. It is also a significant site as part of the Tjilbruke Dreaming Trail and contains registered sites under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA).

The land being added to the state reserves system in this proclamation includes a combination of land previously transferred from SA Water, the Coast Protection Board and the City of Onkaparinga.

The Department for Environment and Water, SA Water, Green Adelaide, City of Onkaparinga and other working group members have been working on flood mitigation, stormwater management, weed control, revegetation plans, water quality and protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

The proclamation of the Aldinga Conservation Park adds to the eight national parks created since 2018 including Glenthorne National Park, Hindmarsh Valley National Park, Munga-Thirri–Simpson Desert National Park, Nilpena Ediacara National Park, Wapma Thura – Southern Flinders Ranges National Park, Lake Frome National Park, Cleland National Park and Deep Creek National Park.


New map from the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA (also at: https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/park-management/aldinga-conservation-park)

Final Update: Australian ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

Australia ratified the Convention on 7 December 2021, see: https://www.awe.gov.au/environment/protection/chemicals-management/mercury

Note: the enclosure referred to in the correspondence can be found in my earlier update: http://michaelcornish.org/2021/11/22/update-9-australian-ratification-of-the-minamata-convention-on-mercury/


 

Update 3: Australian sandalwood conservation

Michael Cornish
to: [email protected]
date: 22 Nov 2021
subject: Recommendation that Sandalwood be added to the priority flora list

Dear WA TSSC,

Just in case the process has not been initiated, may I please recommend that Sandalwood be added to the priority flora list?

The basis for this recommendation comes from the attached correspondence between myself and the Chair of the WA TSSC.

Kind regards,

-Michael Cornish

Air Quality Monitoring

The same letter was also sent to the Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Susan Close MP.


The Hon David Speirs MP
Minister for Environment and Water
GPO BOX 1047
ADELAIDE SA 5001

 

Dear Minister,

Re: State election commitments on Air Quality Monitoring

I write to you as a former Senior Policy Adviser to the Federal Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie MP, with a keen interest in the environment and public health.

I note that there are currently no Air Quality Monitoring[1] sites in the Adelaide metropolitan area north or north-east of the Air Quality Monitoring site at Northfield, leaving large communities in the northern and north-eastern suburbs – including the marginal electorates of Wright and King, and to a lesser extent, Newland – without access to air quality data. Based on 2016 Census data, this area accounts for at approximately 348,000 people[2], which is over 26% of the 2016 population of metropolitan Adelaide[3]. Unfortunately, climate change is set to increase the prevalence and impact of bushfires and smoke, leading to an increase in community air quality concerns.

Air quality data is particularly valuable to vulnerable groups, such as the young, the elderly, and people with respiratory problems who can face life-threatening consequences from poor quality air. For example, an estimated 11% of the population have asthma[4], meaning there are an estimated more than 38,000 asthmatics within the north/north-eastern metropolitan Adelaide area, let alone other vulnerable groups.

Will your party commit to establishing an Air Quality Monitoring site in an appropriate location in the northern/north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide?

Further, will your party commit to this site measuring NO2, PM10 (1 hour), PM10 (24 hours), and O3 (1 hour) and O3 (4 hours), noting that this would simply mirror the monitoring undertaken at the southernmost metropolitan Adelaide monitoring site at Christies Beach?

Yours sincerely,

Michael Cornish

12 / 11 / 2021

[1] See: https://www.epa.sa.gov.au/environmental_info/air_quality/new-air-quality-monitoring

[2] 137,979 people in the City of Salisbury; 23,034 in the Town of Gawler; 97,734 in City of Tea Tree Gully; 89,372 in the City of Playford; see: https://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/Home/2016%20QuickStats

[3] 1,295,714 people as of the 2016 Census in the Greater Adelaide, Greater Capital City Statistical Area; see: https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/4GADE?opendocument

[4] As per: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma/contents/asthma

Update 2: Australian sandalwood conservation

Michael Cornish
by email

 

Dear Michael

Thank you for your letter of 15 October, address to me as Chair of the Western Australian Threatened Species Scientific Committee at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. The Department forwarded your letter to me.

I did read the paper by Richard McLellan et al. when it was published. I can understand your concern.

The Western Australian TSSC reviews nominations that have been submitted to them for the listing of flora as threatened flora under the WA Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, in accordance with the provisions of the Act and Ministerial Guidelines. Members of the community may submit nominations at any time, following the Ministerial Guidelines, and using the nomination form available on the Department of Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions (DBCA) web page, dpaw.wa.gov.au/plants-and-animals/threatened-species-and-communities/118-nominations.

As well as the list of threatened species, the WA priority flora list is a non-statutory list maintained by DBCA. Recommendations for addition to the priority flora list may be submitted to DBCA at any time, to [email protected]. Additions to the priority flora list do not require a nomination form. Priority list recommendations are not required to be submitted to or to be reviewed by the TSSC, although TSSC may make recommendations to DBCA on priority listings and DBCA may request TSSC advice on priority listings. Having a plant on the priority flora list does ensure that it is considered when environmental impact and other decisions are made, although that level of protection is not as high as threatened listing.

I am advised that a nomination for the listing of Australian Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) as a threatened flora species has not been received, nor has a recommendation been received for addition to the priority flora list.

As the species occurs in WA and South Australia, the assessment of a nomination must also follow the requirements for cross-jurisdictional assessments under the Intergovernmental memorandum of understanding – Agreement on a common assessment method for listing of threatened species and threatened ecological communities, awe.gov.au/environment/biodiversity/threatened/cam. While WA TSSC may review a nomination for a species that occurs both in WA and in anther jurisdiction, and can recommend listing to the state Minister, it is sometimes simpler to nominate such a species to the Commonwealth TSSC; however, you should note that they have priorities set by their Minister, and a nomination may not be considered for some time if it does not fit the current priorities.

If a nomination of species that occurs both in WA and outside WA is received by DBCA, it will be considered by the WA TSSC and after the state Minister makes a decision whether or not to list, it is then referred to the Commonwealth. Except for emergency nominations, WATSSC typically meets once a year and its recommendations go to the state Minister within a reasonably short time.

I suggest that your best course of action would be to, in the immediate future, recommend sandalwood to the WA Flora Priority List and then fill in a threatened species nomination form so that the TSSC may consider recommending listing.

Yours sincerely

Dr Andrew A Burbidge AO
Chair WA TSSC

9 November 2021

Vehicle emissions standards

The Hon Angus Taylor MP
Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
CANBERRA, ACT 2600

 

Dear Minister,

Re: Vehicle Emission Standards

I write to you as a former Senior Adviser to the Federal Member for Mayo, Ms Rebekha Sharkie MP with a keen interest in public health and environmental issues.

Improving light and heavy vehicle emissions standards offer tremendous benefits:

  • to the health of Australians by mitigating the noxious air pollution that leads to more than 1,700 premature deaths a year[1] via respiratory disease;
  • to the environment by reducing CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • by mitigating the negative health impacts that are consequential to climate change.

I recognise there are potential political obstacles to the introduction of more stringent heavy vehicle emissions standards, especially from the Government’s junior Coalition partner.

However – and without seeking to encourage inaction on heavy vehicle emission standards – progressing action on the emissions standards for light (passenger) vehicles presents an opportunity to the Coalition that tangibly demonstrates its commitment to public health and net zero emissions, and at much lower political risk.

As the Government’s Draft Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), “Light Vehicle Emission Standards for Cleaner Air[2] from October 2020 indicates [my highlights]:

there is a strong case for mandatory standards to reduce noxious emissions from road vehicles. The costs of air pollution from road vehicles are not borne directly by the vehicle manufacturers or by owners but are shared by the community. As such the problem cannot be addressed effectively by the operation of market forces alone as there is no commercial reason to do so. Government action to strengthen noxious emissions standards are internationally recognised as a very effective measure to reduce urban air pollution, and such standards have managed to deliver improvements in urban air quality despite growth in vehicle use.

Further:

Noxious emissions from road vehicles reduce urban air quality, leading to premature death and illness among Australians. …our current noxious emissions standards now trail most other developed countries including the EU, US, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

The Draft RIS then proposes:

…that the Government mandate Euro 6d for light vehicles for all newly approved models manufactured from 1 July 2027 and for all new vehicles manufactured from 1 July 2028.

Indeed, I would highly recommend that the Federal Government fast-track the Euro 6d mandate for light vehicles, commencing the mandate much earlier than 2027-28 and within the next term of Government.

This commitment – and the framing its introduction within the next electoral term – would be a very useful concrete measure for the Prime Minister and Australian Government to deploy at the forthcoming Glasgow 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

May I then kindly request – when will the Government make its decision about the introduction of more stringent light and heavy vehicle emissions standards, and what will be the likely timeframe for their commencement?

Will the Government be adopting the core proposal of the relevant Draft RIS, namely, adopting a Euro 6d mandate for light vehicle emissions standards?

I hope that the Government can see both the political opportunity this proposal presents, as well as the public health and environmental benefits it would create for our fellow Australians.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Cornish

15 / 10 / 2021

Cc Dr John Kunkel, Chief of Staff, PMO

[1] See: https://www.smh.com.au/national/our-dirty-fuel-is-a-bigger-killer-than-covid-19-how-australia-fails-on-car-emissions-20200909-p55tri.html

[2] See: https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/sites/default/files/migrated/vehicles/environment/forum/files/light-vehicle-emission-standards-for-cleaner-air.pdf

Update 1: Australian sandalwood conservation

Essentially the same letter as the one to the Federal Threatened Species Scientific Committee, but this time to the WA Threatened Species Scientific Committee:


Dr Andrew Burbidge
Chair
Threatened Species Scientific Committee
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
c/o BENTLEY DELIVERY CENTRE, WA 6983

 

Dear Dr Burbridge,

Re: Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)

I write to you as a former Senior Policy Adviser for the Federal Member for Mayo, Ms Rebekha Sharkie MP, and with a keen interest in environmental issues. Thank you in advance for your consideration of my correspondence.

Specifically, I am writing out of interest and concern regarding the status of Australian sandalwood, noting that it does not appear on the current Federal EPBC Act List of Threatened Flora[1], nor on the Western Australian Threatened and Priority Flora List[2].

According to research published last week by academics from Charles Sturt University and Curtin University, “[a]cross its entire range in Australia’s western and southern rangelands, Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum [R.Br.] A.DC.) is on a path towards ‘extinction in the wild’––the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s penultimate category of conservation risk.[3]

According to a related article from The Conversation by the same authors, they estimate that “175 years of commercial harvesting may have decreased the population of wild sandalwood by as much as 90%”, and conclude that “It’s time to list sandalwood as a threatened species nationally, and start harvesting only from plantations to give these wild, centuries-old trees a fighting chance at survival.[4]

May I kindly inquire, will the Committee undertake a review of the Western Australian sandalwood listing to ascertain whether it should be placed on the Western Australian Threatened and Priority Flora List (or other relevant list), and if so, when, and if not, why not?

Further, what conservation efforts are the Western Australian Government taking to protect and conserve remaining sandalwood trees in the wild?

Thank you again for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Cornish

15 / 10 / 2021

[1] See: https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicthreatenedlist.pl?wanted=flora

[2] See: https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/plants-and-animals/threatened-species-and-communities/threatened-plants

[3] McLellan R. C., Dixon K., Watson D. M. (2021) Prolific or precarious: a review of the status of Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum [R.Br.] A.DC., Santalaceae). The Rangeland Journal; see: https://www.publish.csiro.au/rj/RJ21017

[4] See: Kingsley Dixon, Richard McLellan, and David M Watson, ‘Loved to death: Australian sandalwood is facing extinction in the wild’, The Conversation, 7 October 2021; https://theconversation.com/loved-to-death-australian-sandalwood-is-facing-extinction-in-the-wild-167281

Australian sandalwood conservation

Emeritus Professor Helene Marsh FAA FTSE
Chair
Threatened Species Scientific Committee
c/o Species Information and Policy Section
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
GPO Box 858
CANBERRA ACT 2601

 

Dear Professor Marsh,

Re: Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)

I write to you as a former Senior Policy Adviser for the Federal Member for Mayo, Ms Rebekha Sharkie MP, and with a keen interest in environmental issues. Thank you in advance for your consideration of my correspondence.

Specifically, I am writing out of interest and concern regarding the status of Australian sandalwood, noting that it does not appear on the current EPBC Act List of Threatened Flora[1].

According to research published earlier this week by academics from Charles Sturt University and Curtin University, “[a]cross its entire range in Australia’s western and southern rangelands, Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum [R.Br.] A.DC.) is on a path towards ‘extinction in the wild’––the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s penultimate category of conservation risk.[2]

According to a related article from The Conversation by the same authors, they estimate that “175 years of commercial harvesting may have decreased the population of wild sandalwood by as much as 90%”, and conclude that “It’s time to list sandalwood as a threatened species nationally, and start harvesting only from plantations to give these wild, centuries-old trees a fighting chance at survival.[3]

May I kindly inquire, will the Committee undertake a review of the Australian sandalwood listing to ascertain whether it should be placed on the EPBC Act List of Threatened Flora, and if so, when, and if not, why not?

Further, what conservation efforts are the Federal Government taking to protect and conserve remaining sandalwood trees in the wild?

Thank you again for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Cornish

10 / 10 / 2021

Cc: Threatened Species Commissioner, Dr Sally Box

[1] See: https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicthreatenedlist.pl?wanted=flora

[2] McLellan R. C., Dixon K., Watson D. M. (2021) Prolific or precarious: a review of the status of Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum [R.Br.] A.DC., Santalaceae). The Rangeland Journal; see: https://www.publish.csiro.au/rj/RJ21017

[3] See: Kingsley Dixon, Richard McLellan, and David M Watson, ‘Loved to death: Australian sandalwood is facing extinction in the wild’, The Conversation, 7 October 2021; https://theconversation.com/loved-to-death-australian-sandalwood-is-facing-extinction-in-the-wild-167281