Gecko’s Campaigns Team are a passionate group of Gold Coasters giving a voice to the protection of the natural environment and advocating for the improved sustainability of the built environment. 

The Gold Coast is recognised as an area of exceptional beauty and diversity of natural environments from the beaches and headlands, across the flood plains to the hills of the hinterland including, the World Heritage listed, Springbrook National Park. The Gold Coast has such a diversity of native plants and animals, many rare and endangered, that it is known as a biodiversity hotspot.

It is also an area of high population growth as more people seek to make their homes here to share in this bounty. This increasing population need to be accommodated and employment provided, while still protecting our exceptional beaches and bushland. It is the challenge of better management of both protection and sustainable development that inspires the Gecko campaigners.

The Campaigns Team with its combined knowledge and skills, meets fortnightly to discuss the issues, develop advocacy strategies and take appropriate action through appealing to the hearts and minds of Gold Coasters and the decision makers in the community. The Team brings together a number of experienced campaigners ready and willing to welcome and support any new comers to the team.

Join the Team and take action: New campaign team members are welcomed. If this is you please call the Gecko office 5534 1412 between 10am and 2pm Monday to Friday or send a message on Facebook and we will contact you.

Networks

The Campaigns Team also works in close collaboration with other conservation and community organisations on the Gold Coast and northern NSW which have similar interests. On a broader scale the Team works with or supports other organisations such as the Queensland Conservation Council and its member groups on State and National environmental issues.

A voice for the environment

Gecko campaigns on 4 core themes:

  1. Climate change/ global warming – to which we all contribute by our lifestyle choices, affects every aspect of our lives. Gecko’s Campaigners advocate for effective action at government and community level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Biodiversity Protection by working to protect our unique native plants and animals in conservation reserves, national parks, waterways and other areas.
  3. Protection of public open space by advocating for low impact use of conservation reserves, natural and recreational areas and expansion of these to keep pace with population growth for the health and wellbeing of our residents.
  4. Good planning for the present and future by working to maintain and sustain the liveability and attractiveness of the city through the implementation of fair and just planning legislation to deliver a clean, green city.

March Campaigns Report - from Lois Levy

 

Volunteers are wanted to help with all these campaign actions.

Submissions due: Amendments to City Plan Round 4.  https://gchaveyoursay.com.au/ourcityourplan Submissions: cityplansubmissions@goldcoast.qld.gov.au

Submissions/Mail
20210208_Email_TMR_KoalaManPlan
202102012_Email_AWE_FOI_Revised request
202102012_Email_VL2T_CommunityLiaison re new meeting of M1 expansion and fauna underpass
20210208_F/U letter_GCCC_CEO_ Climate action
20210301_Email_MTan_GCCC_MTB
20210301_Email_MinEnvironment_NerangNP

Gecko Campaigns Groups.

The matters that arise under four broad headings of :

  • Climate Change
  • Biodiversity
  • Protection of Public Open Space
  • Liveability and Planning Sustainability.

Director of Queensland Conservation Council visit: Dave Copement, the new Director of QCC attended a Gecko Campaign meeting and discussed 4 main areas of action. Climate action; National Park expansion; Meetings with the Minister; the need for an Environment Protection Agency.

Climate Change:

Gecko and Gold Coast Climate Action Network are interested in setting up a series of listening posts throughout the city to gauge residents’ interest in climate change and taking local action.

Gecko will meet again with Griffith University Climate Action Beacon Project Leaders, Prof. Brendan Mackey and Kerry Foxwell-Norton re the development of a series of community based webinars for 2021.

One of these could be held during Green Week around World Environment Day on 5th June.

Gold Coast Climate Action Network (GCCAN).  The recent meeting focussed on developing a strategic plan for this year. It was agreed that each member group would go on with their actions and could seek support from GCCAN if needed.  A timeline of climate and environment events was drafted leading to the COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Gecko is keen to develop some postcards that can be sent to the Prime Minister urging a commitment to climate action at the Cop26.

Biodiversity

National Parks:  A range of conservation groups are working together to urge the State Government to increase the protected area estate, ie. More National Parks and more private conservation areas.

The campaign is called Double in 10 which relates to increasing the percentage of protected areas from 8% to 17% within 10 years. The public will be able to join in this campaign shortly.

In the meantime local conservation groups are seeking a meeting with Hon. Megan Scalan, Minister for Environment on the same issue.

Nerang National Park: There are continuing discussions between the Conservation sector representatives on the Nerang National Park stakeholder group and the GC Mountain Bike Club and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and we are waiting for a date of the next stakeholder meeting. Gecko has again asked for other Nerang national park stakeholders to be invited.

The Friends of Nerang National Park bush-care day was well attended and some work begun on weeding an ecologically important section of the park.  https://www.facebook.com/nerangnationalpark/

Oxenford Quarry Expansion: The Council has indicated that they will refuse the expansion application but Nucrush are reapplying with different parameters. The assessment by the Federal Dept. of Environment has not yet taken place.

The community group has decided to start a fund for a court case if needed. https://www.facebook.com/againstquarryexpansion/posts/240828943988539?__tn__=K-R

Cableway proposal again:  A response has been received to our letter sent to Minister for Environment advising that no application has been received yet. 

There was no mention of our concerns about paying for a business case.

National Park Forum:  Plans for Gecko to host a webinar or in-person forum on problems of commercialisation of national parks in 2021 have been put pushed back to June’s Green Week.  Alaire and Sonya are working on this. https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/212524/qld-protected-area-strategy-2020-30.pdf

EPBC Review. The Samuels’ Final Review of the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act report has been released and is scathing of the Act’s inability to protect our declining biodiversity. 

There are 38 strong recommendations.  A submission needs to be written to the Minister for Environment calling for these to be endorsed and acted upon.

At present the Federal Govt. is doing very little – https://epbcactreview.environment.gov.au/resources/final-report

Tree Canopy Report: Reform to tree preservation local laws urgently needed and Gecko to follow up.  Other groups, Gold Cost City Planning staff advised that the report by Arup “Urban Tree Canopy Study done for the city will be implemented in the latter half of this year.

There are some good recommendations about changes to the planning system to protect trees. https://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/documents/bf/urban-tree-canopy-study.pdf

Ground Water Extraction at Springbrook (GWE). There is currently a dispute about the ecosystem and World Heritage expert report as Hoffman’s expert has not met with the Co-respondent’s experts. 

The solicitors on both sides are discussing the issue.  Council is holding to its position that the water mine proposed by Hoffman will damage the environment and community amenity.

It will come to hearing in April 2021.

Natural Areas Acquisition Policy – this was adopted by Council on 22nd October and replaces the Open Space Preservation Levy. Gecko will seek clarification of why it will be implemented by the Planning Department not Natural Areas Management Unit and how it will work.

The author of the report was Nina Bishop, Senior Environment Planner and apparently Parks and Gardens will be involved.

Royal Commission into Black Summer Bushfires has been released and Gecko will be reading this. https://naturaldisaster.royalcommission.gov.au/publications/html-report

Transport impact on biodiversity – Coomera Connector Stage 1: Gecko has applied for an FOI and were advised that the Federal department of Environment does not have this document.

Gecko has written to TMR re the release date of the Koala Management Plan and were advised it would be released in February, but it is still not available.

The Public Environment Report for Stage 1 will come out later this year.

M1 Extensions – Varsity to Tugun (VL2T). Gecko has written to TMR asking for an on-site visit to discuss the progress with the underpass and rehabilitation of Oyster Creek and the issues of lack of bushland on the western exit of the underpass.

There has not been a response so far.

Light Rail – Gecko wrote to Minister Bailey asking for some clarification on the impact of the proposed Oceanway on Tarrabora Reserve and the response assured us that there would be no impact on Tarrabora Reserve.

Gecko is participating in discussions with a new group the Southern Transport Alternative Routes (STAR) group which is promoting an alternative route via west Burleigh and the M1.

With the announcement of the possibility of the Olympic Games in 2032 the Mayor has been pushing for an early start to Stage 4. https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Projects/Name/G/Gold-Coast-Highway-Burleigh-Heads-to-Tugun-Multi-modal-Corridor-Study

Public Open Space

The Spit Master Plan: Bus to Seaway: No response has been received to our letter asking for a bus on The Spit that continues past SeaWorld, where it currently terminates, to Seaway.

It is a long and hot walk from SeaWorld to the Seaway especially for visitors carrying beach and picnic loads. TMR are likely to be trialling electric buses on the Gold Coast this year and we asked for one for The Spit.

Helicopter joy rides: Council has requested Helitours to demonstrate why their illegal operations should continue on the Marina Mirage site. Gecko has received a response from Council stating they are awaiting a response from Helitours.

They could either be told to shut up shop or could put in an application for permission to operate.

The redevelopment of Marina Mirage, from which Helitours operates now, have not included a helipad in their application which was approved.

Cruise Terminal, Gecko has now the PwC Report to Council and we are working on a media release.

Curlew Island will be gazetted as a conservation reserve for the protection of migratory birds and is known as land parcel SP299989.

The next step is to appoint a trustee and develop a management plan. This needs followed up.

Liveability and a Green City Planning.

The fourth round of consultation on about 9 items of Amendments 2 & 3 package has started. A working group of Gecko, Community Alliance, and others with planning knowledge are working on developing a response.

The main concern is the reduction of deep planting and landscaping to the minimum needed.  The public consultation proposed from 9th March to 8th April is the minimum required.

Gecko has a new intern and he is tasked with examining the City Plan for sustainability elements and comparing and contrasting our City Plan with another one in Queensland and Victoria, making recommendations we can use for advocacy and writing a report.

The Community Alliance: The goals for 2020 – 2021 will be to continue pushing for planning reform, holding Council to account for development decisions and advocacy for sustainability, amenity and liveability in Gold Coast planning decisions.

SEQ Alliance –This group of representatives of community organisations around SEQ is continuing to push for planning reform and local government reform.

A letter has been sent to the Minister for Planning requesting a meeting.

Strategic Planning for the Campaign Team: Strategies for each of the goals are being developed and the update to the website for each area of endeavour is nearly complete.

We value that:-

  • All life on Earth has a right to exist in reasonable conditions and humans should not have the right to exploit other species or destroy their habitat.
  • Our work should be based on known science, respect for life and respectful communication with others.  
  • The work of other conservation and community groups and the opportunities for mutual support are recognised and appreciated.
  • Proactive work is preferable to reactive work.
Goals. 

The Team’s goals for the four main areas of endeavour of Climate Change; Biodiversity; public open space; planning.

Climate Change – to advocate, for effective action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to all levels of government and within all sectors of the community for the benefit of all living species.

Biodiversity – to advocate for the protection of all native species through increases in the extent of protected areas, such as land and marine national parks and conservation reserves, and improved funding for effective management. Better legislation is also needed for all areas of development.

Public Open Space – to advocate for the protection and increase of public open space and its vegetation for the health and well-being of the growing population. Further to advocate for the implementation of an urban forest policy and register of the city’s significant trees.

Livability and a Green City – to advocate for the adoption of sustainability objectives in city planning, infrastructure provision and development to ensure a livable and attractive city for residents and visitors.

New Portfolios in Queensland State Cabinet: https://cabinet.qld.gov.au/ministers.aspx
  1. Minister for Environment, Great Barrier Reef and Science, Megan Scanlan;
  2. Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey;
  3. Minister for Tourism Industry Development and Innovation and Minister for Sport, Stirling Hinchliffe;
  4. Minister for Resources, Scott Stewart;
  5. Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Michael de Brenni;
  6. Deputy Premier; Minister for State Development , Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Stephen Miles.

Archived articles

Environmental campaigners and others active in the community often want to contact a Minister or Shadow Minister about their concerns, so Gecko has put together a list of the Government Ministers and their pair LNP Shadow Minister with all their contacts for you to use. We hope this is useful for you www.gecko.org.au

Over that time Gecko, as a leading regional environmental body, has actively participated in all consultations relating the EPBC Act, the cornerstone of Australia’s environmental protection as well as to development proposals that trigger Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES). In this instance we would like to express our strong objection to this Bill, its manner of hasty passage through Parliament and the lamentably curtailed debate that has taken place. We believe that this Bill, which has been prematurely drafted and tabled, should have been informed by the final report of the statutory independent review of the EPBC Act conducted by Prof Graeme Samuel AO. This has yet to be presented to the public, together with the government’s considered response. The findings of the preliminary report clearly stated that, “The EPBC Act is ineffective. It does not enable the Commonwealth to protect and conserve environmental matters that are important for the nation.” This view was backed up by the Australian National Audit Office which found that the federal government's administration of the EPBC Act was neither effective nor efficient. No proof has been provided to demonstrate that the Bill will provide increased efficiency or a reduction of the costs of development applications.

The Federal legislation the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) is under review by Professor Samuels, and his final report is due for release prior to Christmas. In the meantime the Federal Government is pushing through a Bill called Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (Streamlining Approvals) Bill which gives the State Governments the role of assessing development applications under the EPBC Act, without any national standards to guide their decisions. Gecko is opposing this undue haste and has requested that such a decision is delayed at least until February 2021 until the Review report is made public and national standards are developed.

This year began with the horrific fires along the eastern seaboard and we were all very distressed not only with the human loss of life and property, but also the loss and injury of an estimated 3 billion native animals. The impact of this are still with us and are compounded by the inadequate Federal and State environment laws to protect wildlife and native plants remaining. The year continued with the advent of the Covid 19 pandemic in March, which resulted in the closing of the Gecko House office for several months, but the work of the campaigns team continued during the lockdown. The Campaign team works in 4 main areas – Biodiversity, Climate Change, Protection of Public Open Space and a Liveable Green City

In a few weeks Queenslanders will go to the polls to elect a government for the next 4 years and those of us in the conservation movement will be examining closely each party’s policies on the environment. No major party is without fault in failing to protect the amazing biodiversity we have in Queensland or taking effective action on climate change. It is understandable that during the pandemic and in its aftermath the focus of any government will be on getting the economy going, but unfortunately this is often at the expense of the environment on which the economy depends. This is very clearly seen in the situation with Queensland national parks. See gecko.org.au for more info.

Most governments have been slow to make the necessary policy and action changes to effectively reduced emissions and hold the global temperature to 1.5C by 2050.

Personal Actions for Climate Change You can make a big difference to climate change in your own personal life. Not only can you make an actual impact on how much carbon is emitted, your actions are particularly influential on the

On 27th September the Gold Coast City Council called for public submissions on amendments (changes) to the planning scheme (City Plan) and established a number of pop-up information sessions at various places throughout the city. Gecko urges all residents of Gold Coast to check out these proposed changes to the City plan and put in a submission. The amendments (changes) are intended to improve the City Plan and the way our City responds to the ongoing population growth. Not everyone will agree that all amendments are an improvement and this is why your submission is vital.

The State Government has been developing a koala conservation strategy for several years in response to the alarming decline in koala numbers over past decades. This is mainly due to loss of habitat, 74% since 1967, vehicle strikes, dog attacks and disease. A Expert panel examined the situation and provided the Government with a number of recommendations to respond to this situation. The Government has accepted all of the recommendations and the Strategy and mapping is the first of several actions to address the situation

The toll on wildlife throughout the eastern states of Australia has been high, but many small and large wildlife care organisations are trying to rescue and care for injured and orphaned wildlife with limited resources. These organisations will need help for many months to come so regular donations would be appreciated