A Shorten Labor Government, if elected, will restore and revitalise urban rivers and creeks with a $200 million investment to ensure all Australians can benefit from the natural beauty of our waterways.
Peter Khalil, the Federal Member for Wills, is urging residents to sign a petition in support of projects for the revitalisation of the Moonee Ponds Creek and the Merri Creek. The petition is available here.
The vision for the revitalisation of the Merri Creek involves creating a connected parkland and pathway running the length of the creek, while supporting habitat protection and biodiversity in the urban environment surrounding the creek.
Plans for the Moonee Ponds creek involve returning the creek to its natural state by removing concrete that was laid during the 1960s and 70s, as well as revegetating existing open space and undertaking open space upgrades, such as path works and signage.
Australia’s the nation of the “great outdoors”, but for too long, our rivers, creeks and wetlands have been treated like industrial waste drains, ending up polluted, dirty and littered with shopping trolleys rather than being safe spaces for families, kids and school groups to visit.
Labor’s plan will engage state and local governments, local councils, community groups and local environmental organisations to bring urban waterways and habitat corridors back to health.
Local environmental action groups will be able to apply for small grants, benefiting our urban environment, creating jobs and also re-engaging, educating and mobilising local communities to act on local environmental protection.
Labor’s $200 million investment will unlock grant funding for projects to clean up our rivers including:
- Building wetlands to capture and clean and filter stormwater.
- Revegetation and tree planting along corridors.
- Citizen science and education programs along creeks and corridors, including bush kinder.
- Bird boxes and waste capture.
- Employment of indigenous rangers.
- Turning urban waterways back in to creeks and rivers again through changing hard surfaces back to natural surfaces (cement turned to river banks).
Community groups, such as the Friends of Merri Creek and the Friends of Moonee Ponds creek, work hard to protect and revitalise their waterways – but it’s a day in, day out battle. This investment will give them the support and resources they sorely need.
Labor understands that local organisations with ‘boots on the ground’ are the most passionate and effective organisations in combating environmental degradation and promoting sustainability.
Despite the size of our urban environments, they are often still home to many species of wildlife, fish and birds. Reinvigorating these spaces will create new habitat for animals that have been struggling to find a home.
These rivers are the principal waterways to our oceans – that’s why this project is so important to intercept storm water waste before it makes it to the ocean.
Labor has a proud history of protecting our environment. To be good custodians of our country we need to make sure that we have sustainable and long term policies in place. This is why Labor has made progressive and sensible policies to act on climate change, large scale land clearing, to protect our oceans from over fishing and marine pollution and to clean up our rivers – whether they be in the Murray-Darling Basin or in the suburbs of major cities, like Melbourne’s north.
In contrast, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government have consistently failed to provide federal environment programs that adequately address the urgent need for urban river rehabilitation.
Our cities were built around beautiful, natural rivers because they are a great opportunity to stay connected to nature. Labor will work to restore our urban rivers and river banks to health so that they are a place for local recreation and connection to nature, not an alternative to the rubbish tip.
Labor is serious about ensuring real policies are implemented that protect the environment, making sure it’s there for future generations to enjoy – action on climate change, investing in the environment and maintaining Australia’s status as the “great outdoors”.