As Northcote voters head to the polls this weekend, here’s a wrap up of the Friends of the Earth campaign in the Northcote by-election and where the candidates stand on the issue of native forest logging and the creation of the Great Forest National Park.
Friends of the Earth mobilised over 70 volunteers in a letter boxing blitz in Northcote during the month of October.
Over 25,000 homes received a pamphlet highlighting the on going destruction of our native forests under successive Labor and Liberal governments and calling on by-election candidates to back proposals to protect forests, such as the Great Forest National Park and East Gippsland’s Emerald Link.
Thousands of commuters in Northcote were informed about the issue of native forest logging after receiving pamphlets from Friends of the Earth volunteers at every train station across the electorate over a period of two weeks.
Friends of the Earth jointly commissioned polling with other environment groups that showed strong support for the protection of native forests in the Northcote electorate.
In fact, the polling showed 81% of Northcote voters support the creation of the Great Forest National Park and nearly 60% of voters said they were more likely to vote for a candidate that supports forest protection.
Only 7% of voters in Northcote believe native forests should be logged for wood and paper products.
Friends of the Earth has made native forest protection a prominent issue in the campaign so far and several candidates have publicly backed proposals to protect forests.
Here’s a summary of where the candidates in the by-election stand on the issue and how they are allocating preferences.
The Greens – Lida Thorpe
Lidia has always been a strong supporter of forest protection and has campaigned against logging as an activist. At the Northcote candidates forum last week Lidia re-affirmed her commitment, and her parties commitment to the Great Forest National Park stating that ‘we need to stop talking about the Great Forest National Park and just create it’. Lidia has also said she fought for old growth forests as an activist and will fight for them in parliament. The Greens have announced they will introduce a bill into Parliament next year to create the Great Forest National Park.
The Reason Party – Lara Chipp
Reason Party candidate Laura Chipp says she would 'negotiate with government to deliver outcomes, including the Great Forest National Park'.
Save the Planet – Bryony Edwards
Save the Planet candidate Bryony Edwards supports the creation of the Great Forest National Park and has consistently had a strong position on the protection of native forests. Save the Planet has a policy to end industrial scale logging of native forests.
Animal Justice Party – Nina Lenk
The Animal Justice Party (AJP) has not made any public statement about their support for the Great Forest National Park. Animal Justice party have a policy to ‘transition to 100 percent plantation forestry and ensure that costs of fencing out wildlife are factored into the cost of timber production. Current licensing practices that allow the wholesale destruction of wildlife must cease.’
Labor Party – Clare Burns
At last week’s candidate forum Clare Burns stated that she supports the creation of the Great Forest National Park and if elected she will strongly advocate for the creation of the park within parliament.
Whilst Friends of the Earth welcomes Clare Burns personal support for the park, the Labor party currently has no policy to create the park or protect native forests from logging. In 2015, former Labor Environment Minister Lisa Neville MP stated that the Great Forest National Park would be created within Labor’s term of government, however the logging within the proposed park has continues under Labor. We welcome Clare Burns personal support and re-iterate our calls for her party to support the creation of the Great Forest National Park within this term of government.
Liberal Democrats - Dean Rossiter
The Liberal Democrats are opposed to the protection of native forests and the establishment of new national parks. They support the abolition of government ownership and control of forestry and believe many forests under government ownership should be privatised.
To the best of our knowledge, no other candidates have announced their position on the Great Forest National Park.
Friends of the Earth does not endorse any candidate in the Northcote by-election. We have campaigned for the protection of native forests and the creation of the Great Forest National Park during the election campaign. We’ve called on all candidates to support the Great Forest National Park and we are pleased that several candidates have expressed their support.
Whatever the results at the ballot boxes this weekend, Friends of the Earth will continue to advocate for the creation of the park, the protection of native forests from logging and a just transition for workers currently employed in the forestry industry.
TAKE ACTION - Show the Labor government there is strong support for forest protection.
Photo: Giant Mountain Ash in the proposed Great Forest National Park (The Wilderness Society)