Opinion Pieces

Climate change is washing away our beaches, Labor is doing something about it

May 08, 2019

This election, in very significant part, is about which party is best positioned to respond to the challenge of climate change.

And so far the debate has centred on what Australia is going to do to mitigate climate change.

But the Australian community is also already dealing with the impacts of climate change that are already baked into the system over the coming years and decades.

Around 85 per cent of the population now lives in coastal regions and the Australian coast is of immense economic, social and environmental importance to the nation.

Australians love their beaches and coastal environments, and they know climate change induced sea level rise poses a serious risk.

Sea level rise has been described as the sleeping giant of climate change and here in the Southern Ocean we see sea level rise rates at about twice the global average.

Many of our coastal communities are already seeing the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels, in increased coastal erosion, a loss of dunes and inundation.

They rightly want leadership from government to address the climate impacts already being felt by their communities.

This is why Bill Shorten and I announced Labor’s $62 million Beaches and Coastlines Climate Adaptation Plan.

Labor’s plan will re-invigorate the crucial research needed to support adaptation action on the ground, coordinate local, state and national efforts to support climate adaptation and resilience, and it will deliver direct support to local communities and government to restore already impacted coasts.

Our plan includes:

  • Developing a National Framework for Building Climate Resilience; bringing together local and state governments, community groups, the businesses community, researchers and relevant Commonwealth agencies and departments. The National Framework will provide the leadership and coordination that has been lacking under the Liberals to develop plans, coordinate efforts, share information and inform other private and government processes and efforts.
  • Re-invigorate the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF); to support the creation and dissemination of research into local climate change impacts, through re-funding of the program with a $12 million funding boost.
  • Introduce a Coastal Rehabilitation Fund; to work with communities, local governments, and the Australian Coastal Councils Association to directly support local coastal rehabilitation projects that restore beaches and other environments, and improve their resilience with $50 million of grant funding.  

Labor’s plan will also be informed by our triennial Australian Climate Change Assessments, which will provide the most comprehensive and detailed assessment of actual and potential climate change impacts on Australia ever performed.

During the six years of Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison chaos, the Liberals completely excluded climate adaptation from their 2017 Review of Climate Change Policies. 

They cut funding for significant adaptation work at CSIRO, completely de-funded the NCCARF and produced a new National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework that fails to take climate change seriously.

After six years of accelerating climate change impacts on our coasts a Shorten Labor Government will provide the leadership communities and industries, like insurance, have been crying out for.

Labor will ensure our communities are able to adapt and grow resilience to climate change impacts.

Only a Labor government will restore our beaches, invest in the science and provide the leadership on climate change Australia desperately needs.