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What do the Mallee candidates have to say about the environment, water and climate change?
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What do the Mallee candidates have to say about the environment, water and climate change?

Five uniformed firefighters standing in front of a fire truck.

Michael Panayi’s face was burned and his goggles were melted by a fireball that hit him during the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.

He stated that he was standing between 70 and 80 metres from the fire when he was struck. The fire was acting in a way he had never witnessed before.

He said, “This was not seen on the ground at that time.”

Mr Panayi resides in Kingower, a Victorian small town in the electoral district of Mallee.

He stated that his 23 years of experience as a volunteer CFA firefighters and a lifetime spent working in different roles on the land and outdoors had shown how climate change feels.

Five uniformed firefighters standing in front of a fire truck.Five uniformed firefighters standing in front of a fire truck.
Michael Panayi (right), and other members of CFA Bridgewater’s strike team during the 2015 Pinery bushfire in South Australia.(Supplied: Michael Panayi)

Mr Payani was concernedpoliticians weren’t doing enough to address this issue.

“If you’re always out there, you can actually see what’s happening.” He said that they are not doing enough and not fast enough.

“It doesn’t really matter how great an economy you have. If you don’t have the world to live in, it doesn’t matter how big your economy is. [there’s] no point.

Not everyone shares Mr Panayi’s views on climate change.

More Australians They cited climate change as their number-one issue more than any other topicin response to theABC’s Vote Compass Survey, but its importance was divided along party lines.

Eight percent of Coalition voters stated it was their top issue, compared with 30% of Labor voters and 50% of Greens voters.

The ABC questioned each candidate for the seat in Mallee about their plans to adapt and mitigate climate change, protect the environment, and manage water policies.

The order in which candidates appear on the ballotpaper determines their order of listing.

Dr Anne Webster National Party

Dr Webster stated that the Nationals would, if elected to government, “drive down emissions while protecting our economy, jobs, and environment.”

A woman smiling.A woman smiling.
Incumbent Mallee MP Anne Webster.(Supplied)

“Australia is one in a handful of countries which has released a detailed economy wide, long-term plan that outlines how we will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” she stated.

Dr Webster stated she supported the installation of many of the 44 solar farms, and 11 wind farm in the electorate.

She stated that she supported $15 Million in funding for Carwarp Solar Hydro Power Plant as well as $51 Million in Clean Energy Finance Corporation funding for Kiamal Solar Plant.

“I will continue supporting the development of the KerangLink, MurrayLink interconnectors that will help provide greater resilience for the national electricity grid. It will also lay the foundations for further renewable electricity generation at Mallee,” she stated.

A solar farm.A solar farm.
The Kiamal Solar Farm is located near Ouyen, north-west Victoria.(Mars Australia)

Dr Webster stated that she favors the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship package, a market-based system to reward farmers who increase biodiversity.

She also cited $2.5million in federal funding for Mallee Sustainable Farming through Drought Resilience Innovation grants Program and the $8 million Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Center as results of her advocacy.

Dr Webster stated that her lobbying has “delivered over $4.5 Million in key water projects in Mallee like flood plain management in areas such as Hattah Lakes”.

Dr Webster stated that “the current practice in…” floodplain harvesting“The NSW government’s acceptance of this practice is unacceptable and should be stopped.”

Aerial shot of flood waters flowing adjacent to irrigated crops in NSWAerial shot of flood waters flowing adjacent to irrigated crops in NSW
Floodplain harvesting is when water is diverted to dams for agricultural and food production.(Supplied by NSW Department of Industry and Environment)

She stated that she and Nationals “fought hard to have a social and economically neutrality test applied to the 450GL purchasebacks and any buybacks”.

“This will decimate the horticultural industry.”

Dr Webster stated that the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline was built by the Nationals and has “replaced inefficient and outdated systems”.

Sophie Baldwin, independent

Ms Baldwin stated that “we must listen and act according to science”.

A woman standing in front of a train.A woman standing in front of a train.
Independent candidate for Mallee Sophie Baldwin(Facebook: Sophie Baldwin)

“There are many missed opportunities in agriculture that can benefit from including tree plantations and wetland protection, carbon capture, renewables, and regenerative farming.”

Ms. Baldwin claimed that investing in rail freight would ensure a “efficient supply chain delivery” and help reduce carbon emissions.

She said, “Investing in Australian manufacturing allows our country to become an innovator in the development and production of green fertilizers.”

“We must invest in the grid, renewable energy, and on a smaller scale allow households to access affordable solar or batteries for their homes.

Claudia Haenel, independent

Ms Haenel stated that “we know that to attract, and then hopefully retain people,” green spaces and natural environments are something that people want.

A woman with blonde hair takes a selfie in front of a building.A woman with blonde hair takes a selfie in front of a building.
Claudia Haenel, Independent Candidate(Facebook: Claudia Haenel)

Independent candidate said that she was for renewable energy.

“[But]Also, we can look at manufacturing components for certain items. Electric vehicles can help in this space and make each of these regional centres more sustainable for future generations.

Christopher Lahy, Australian Citizens Party

Mr Lahy claimed that the link between human activities, climate change, and them was still to be established.

Christopher Lahy wearing a blue shirt.Christopher Lahy wearing a blue shirt.
Christopher Lahy is a candidate for Australian CitizensParty.(Supplied)

He stated that Earth’s climate has changed over time with cycles of cooling and warming. “If we humans, in a fit to ego, believe we can alter these normal planetary processes, then we need stronger medication.”

He said that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) “has not shown that the sun is not to blame” for recent coolings or warmings.

In February, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that Humanity is at the edge of missing the windowto “secure an affordable and sustainable future for all” reported that “it is unambiguous” that human influence has “warmened the atmosphere, ocean, and land.”

Carole Hart, Labor

Ms Hart did no respond to ABC’s requests for comment. However, Labor Leader Anthony Albanese, who has a number of policies on climate change and water, has promised to “end climate wars” if he is elected.

A woman standing in front of a wetlands. A woman standing in front of a wetlands.
Carole Hart, a candidate for the Labor Party.(Facebook)

Labor’s policy is for a reduction of emissions by 43% by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

The party has also pledged to “protect the Great Barrier Reef, fix Australia’s urban rivers and catchments, as well as double the number of Indigenous Rangers.”

Labor’s water policy commitment includes the establishment of a National Water Commission to “drive ongoing water reform and ensure that Australia’s water resources are future-proofed”.

The party also wants the National Water Grid investment program to be expanded to fund a wider variety of projects, including agricultural and town water supplies in remote and regional communities.

Aerial view of the Murray River and the Mildura CBD.Aerial view of the Murray River and the Mildura CBD.
An aerial view of Mildura CBD and the Murray River.(ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Christopher Testa)

The party also has a “five-point plan to protect the Murray Darling Basin,” which includes:

  • Delivering water commitments, including the 450GL for South Australia
  • Increasing compliance and improving monitoring and metering
  • Restoring transparency, integrity, and confidence in water markets management
  • Increased ownership and participation of First Nations in decision-making
  • Updating the science

Sam McColl, Greens

McColl stated that the party’s “first demand”, is for an immediate halt to all new coal, oil and gas projects.

A man wearing a collared shirt posing for a photograph.A man wearing a collared shirt posing for a photograph.
Sam McColl, Greens candidate(Facebook)

He said that only the Greens have a climate plan that is scientifically supported.

“We will assist households and small business to move to electric alternatives better for our health, the environment, and our environment with grants up to $25,000 and loans of up to $100,000.”

McColl stated that the Greens will also collaborate with farmers to increase carbon sequestration on their land.

He stated that he had a plan to invest $24Billion over the next ten years in a mass-greening and restoration program and to establish an Independent Environment Watchdog to enforce stricter environmental laws and hold governments and mining corporations accountable.

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