The Global Financial Crisis and Climate Change provide very big challenges for Queensland and the ongoing profitability and sustainability of the industries which form the backbone of our state economy. These dual crises, though, also provide a fantastic opportunity to retool the Queensland economy in terms of "green jobs", that is, jobs that are based on ongoing ecologically sustainability and socially benefit such as public transport, repair and maintenance, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The Queensland Greens believe that industry subsidies which distort the market in favour of socially unjust and environmentally damaging business practices ought to be removed and the money spent on building a framework for environmentally sustainable industry practice, manufacturing and innovation. The Queensland Greens do not believe that governments have all the answers for tackling economic crises and value the hard work, innovation and entrepreneurship which form the foundation of a modern, liberal society with an economy which strikes the right balance between market forces and the public interest.
The Queensland Greens recognise that many individuals, groups and businesses want to do the right thing by society and the environment but are faced with an economic system and sets of regulations which make it hard to do business in a socially just and environmentally beneficial manner.
The Queensland Greens believe:
- That a strong economy and a healthy environment are not mutually exclusive goals.
- That the modern economy needs to strike a balance between market forces and the public interest.
- In the urgent need for economic restructuring to avoid catastrophic climate change arising from a "business as usual" approach.
- That continuing to build infrastructure without regard to Climate Change is fiscally irresponsible, and squanders the resources needed to build the new green economy.
- That a focus on economic efficiency rather than solely increasing economic activity is beneficial for the economy, society and the environment.
- That a move away from unsustainable consumption and waste towards a culture of environmentally sustainable purchasing, repairing and recycling at the end of a product's life will be good for the environment and good for family budgets.
- That state, national and international laws will eventually change to discourage the use of fossil fuels and that Queensland needs to have a plan for moving forward to a post-carbon world.
- That small and medium business form a crucial part of local economies (and the economy at large) and can have a positive effect in bringing communities together and providing employment for local residents and services for local families.
- The Queensland Government has a responsibility to lead the way in the adoption of renewable energy and environmentally friendly and energy efficient technologies such as alternative fuel cars, public transport, insulation, etc.
- That state based subsidies which distort the market in favour of environmentally unsustainable economic activity should be abolished and the money used to promote innovation and emerging sustainable industries, services and products.
- Queensland has the human resources, technological capabilities and ingenuity to transform the state into a leader in sustainability and innovation.
- Transport, which the economy relies on, should be restructured in favour of rail transport for long distance freight and public transport for commuting.
- In the principles of Fair Trade, the power of markets to achieve positive outcomes for society at large and the role of both labour and capital in the creation of wealth.
The Queensland Greens want to:
- Create an economy that encourages environmentally sustainable growth rather than attempting to redress the environmental impacts of past and current economic growth.
- Put policies in place that value economic efficiency over a simple increase in the amount of economic output.
- Ensure the economy grows in such a way that the distribution of wealth is equitable (as opposed to equal) and that hard work is rewarded.
- Place a value on the externalities associated with economic activity via a framework of taxes based on environmental impact.
- Recognise the benefits to the economy and society of unpaid volunteer work.
- Aid the transition to a carbon-free energy sector by redirecting fossil fuel subsidies to families and businesses as they adopt renewable energy to encourage its uptake.
- Encourage the use of resources (both natural and human) more efficiently in the manufacturing sector including the use of recycled materials.
- Plan for a future in which fossil fuel based energy is more expensive as a result of emissions trading schemes and carbon pollution reduction schemes.
- Support the growth of research based commercial activity and technological industries.
The Queensland Greens will:
- Ensure the Queensland Government leads by example in developing a new green economy:
- Establish a timetable for the transition of Queensland Government investments, through bodies like QSuper and QIC, into environmentally, ethically and socially responsible investment.
- Ensure all government buildings, cars and other assets are as environmentally friendly and energy efficient as possible.
- Minimise use of inefficient modes of transport by Qld Government ministers, such as unnecessary use of a private jet, to set an example.
- Ensure government provided/contracted infrastructure use reused and recycled material where possible.
- Develop a long-term plan for a new energy economy in which fossil fuels have been phased out, to ensure that future infrastructure expenditure and job creation are designed for the long term.
- Introduce triple bottom line accounting including not only economic measures of merit, but also societal and environmental well-being.
- Investigate the feasibility of phasing out payroll tax and land tax in favour of taxes on environmental degradation and community impact.
- Focus infrastructure spending on public transport and clean energy, reversing the current bias towards road construction.
- Promote employment near residences and public transport corridors as outlined in the Queensland Greens' Planning and Development policy.
- Acknowledge that the coal industry is well established and no longer needs government subsidies, particularly for research into carbon capture and storage technologies, by abolishing all fossil fuel industry subsidies and establishing a fund for the start-up of new renewable energy generation companies.
- Create new TAFE places and apprenticeships to retrain workers with transferable skills in repair and maintenance.
- Provide funds for the expansion of recycling systems in order to reduce the amount of consumer waste going into landfill.
- Set benchmarks for Queensland's manufacturing sector for the use of recycled material.
- Undertake a retraining scheme for retrofitting of Queensland homes and businesses with energy efficient lighting and insulation and water efficient pipes, etc. (See EASI-Q policy)
- Provide incentives to developers to make it easier for them to use efficient technologies in new building construction.
- Make public transport costs tax deductible for employees travelling to work and enable employers to bulk order discounted public transport season passes on behalf of employees.
- Replace proprietary, commercial software with open source software in the public sector where possible in order to keep department costs down. This would foster new activity in open source development, contributing to Queensland's "Smart State" image.
- Expand programs like community kitchens, gardens, cleaning facilities and tool sheds (using excess government land) to foster community based interaction and reduce the duplication of ownership of infrequently used tools.
- Prioritise certified Fair Trade goods in government procurement of goods produced overseas.
- Recognise the economic value of unpaid voluntary work by providing health, energy and public transport concessions to those engaged in volunteer work.
- Provide for annual calculation of Queensland's ecological footprint and that of all individual local authorities to be used in association with traditional measures of economic activity.