Wishing you good health and safety as our community continues to grapple with the pandemic and its consequences.
Although Australia and Queensland have managed the pandemic very well there remains much uncertainty about our medium-term future. Extreme and conflicting views abound, including: the economy is predicted to return to original strength in a matter of months to some years, JobKeeper should end in September, it will need
to be extended, a possible vaccine or cure is months to years away, Queensland’s tourism industry will be in the doldrums for years, it will recover because of much greater internal tourism.
As has often been stated, Australia and Queensland’s success in combatting the virus to date has been largely due to responses based on scientific evidence (and a wellintended community).
Whilst we have been consumed with the pandemic and its social and economic aftermath other underlying issues remain.
The commencement of the Royal Commission into last summer’s fires reminded us of two of these.
Initial representations made it clear that we should expect longer fire seasons and more severe fire events as a regular part of our future (Karl Braganza, BOM, Head of Climate Monitoring). The Federal Threatened Species Commissioner, Sally Box, informed the Commission that of 327 threatened species, 49 lost more than 80% of their habitat and 65 lost 50% of theirs during the summer fires. Queensland’s biodiversity is of national and international significance.
Broadly some choices are to be made: do we aim to return to where we were pre-virus? Do we continue with this reliance on science? Do we maintain greater bipartisanship? Do we address well understood long term issues?
Since February, we as a community have changed enormously and we now have an opportunity to change in a considered way.
Of course, of interest to us is our National Parks (which have proven to be very popular as travel restrictions have eased). There is sufficient evidence that experiencing nature does support our mental health.
The State’s Protected Area Strategy has been in gestation for years whilst there has been a commitment to the State achieving 17% target of its area being protected. Even though the State’s finances will be stretched for some time, we believe that it is time for a well-funded Protected Area Strategy. The benefits to our biodiversity, our community and to tourism associated benefits will be great in the long term.