REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Not all local councils are ready to declare a climate emergency

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM executive editor James Joyce.

Emergency or not? Well, it depends on where you live, it seems. Photo: Shutterstock

Emergency or not? Well, it depends on where you live, it seems. Photo: Shutterstock

When is a "climate emergency" declared by a local council not quite a climate emergency?

When the "declaration" is part of a nation-wide campaign by the Greens and associated eco-warriors, perhaps?

Or when the council in question determines that, actually, we aren't "living in a time of climate emergency" but rather a time of "variable and changing climate"?

Welcome to another week, and the never-ending contest of ideas we out here in real Australia like to call "Fun With Local Government".

Last week, Eurobodalla Shire Council on the NSW South Coast baulked at Councillor Pat McGinlay's bid to have the local government body vote to declare a climate emergency.

Instead, Cr McGinlay's motion was amended.

As the Bay Post at Batemans Bay reported, the original wording - "Council acknowledges and consequently declares that we are living in a time of climate emergency that requires focused and strategic actions at the local government level, for the benefit of our whole community, in both the immediate and longer term" - ended up as: "That council acknowledges and consequently recognises that we are living in a time that requires focused and strategic actions at the local government level, for the benefit of our whole community, in both the immediate and longer term to address variable and changing climate".

PROTEST: Concerned citizens gathered at Eurobodalla Shire Council last week to support a motion to declare a climate emergency. It did not pass. PICTURE: Kate Raymond.

PROTEST: Concerned citizens gathered at Eurobodalla Shire Council last week to support a motion to declare a climate emergency. It did not pass. PICTURE: Kate Raymond.

Earlier, Greenpeace had been quick to applaud nearby Wollongong City Council's decision to declare the same "climate emergency", calling it "huge stuff".

But like Eurobodalla's Cr Rob Pollock, who objected to the term "emergency" as an "emotive description", some councillors at Wollongong called the vote a "sham".

But the federal environment minister reckons they should stick to collecting the bins.

"I think ratepayers would expect to see their councils leading practical action on local environmental issues and focusing on things they can address locally," Minister Sussan Ley told AAP.

"Local government plays an important environmental role managing waste and recycling, and in maintaining local areas. I think that is what local communities would most like to see from their councils."

Which is all very well for Minister Ley to say as her government scrambles to develop a viable future for waste management and recycling in Australia following China's decision to ban the importation of foreign waste.

Australia spent $2.8 billion exporting nearly 4.5 million tonnes of waste last year, with most of it going to Vietnam, Indonesia and China.

In Wagga Wagga in south-west NSW, the council sees potential upside in China's ban, The Daily Advertiser has reported.

In the Hunter Valley, residents are being surveyed to find sensible solutions, the Maitland Mercury reports.

In Victoria, where the collapse of a major recycling processor has forced several councils to send material to landfill, fashion-lovers in Ballarat are striving to reduce textiles waste.

RUBBERY FIGURES: Do you need a single-use plastic bag to carry your single-use Ooshies?

RUBBERY FIGURES: Do you need a single-use plastic bag to carry your single-use Ooshies?

At the Southern Highlands News, they're wondering out loud about the mixed messages the big supermarkets are sending by reducing the availability of single-use plastic bags but increasing the availability of pointless plastic toys.

Little rubber Ooshies are the pester power checkout collectable craze of the minute. So imagine Katherine Times editor Chris McLennan's horror when the dog mauls your $10,000 blue Ooshie!

Meanwhile in Newcastle, former NRL star Ian Roberts is tackling ex-jockey and one-time NRL Footy Show prankster Allan Robinson - who is on the city council - over gay slurs.

Bins go out on Thursday night, right?

James Joyce

Executive Editor, Australian Community Media

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