Supporters of the Surf Coast Shire's declaration of a climate emergency cheer the decision following the August 27 meeting. Photo: PETER MARSHALL

Coker supports shire’s climate emergency

September 5, 2019 BY

CORANGAMITE Labor federal member Libby Coker has backed her former council’s declaration of a climate emergency.

Despite calling on the federal Coalition government to follow the lead of state and local governments in acting decisively to address climate change, Ms Coker stopped short of saying the Australian government would declare a climate emergency if Labor was in power.

Ms Coker said it was imperative that all levels of government made a commitment to stronger action on climate change.

“I applaud the Surf Coast Shire on their decision. It is a clear indication of the concern among the local community who are witnessing the impact of climate change on the environment both locally and globally.

“Australia is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and those impacts are being felt across Corangamite now. We are witnessing the loss of habitats, coastal erosion, increased heatwaves and drought.

“I want to reiterate my calls for the federal government to face the reality that climate change is real and we are facing a climate emergency. We must act to protect Australia’s future.”

When asked if declaring a climate emergency was federal Labor policy, Ms Coker said all of Labor’s environmental policies were under review following the election.

She said her first speech in Parliament, to be given on Tuesday, September 10, would “raise the climate emergency as a key issue for Australia’s future”.

The Surf Coast Shire’s declaration of a climate emergency on August 27 was highly divisive among the council itself, with mayor Rose Hodge forced to use her casting voice twice to break a four-four deadlock.

The first time was to block an alternate motion from Cr Heather Wellington that removed the words “climate emergency”. The second was to ensure the passing of the original motion, when she remarked “As mayor, I’m just going to say: the science is in”.

Cr Wellington said there was a global climate crisis but declaring a climate emergency “was not meaningful”.

“I did not come into Council to virtue signal.  I came in to do real, practical things to support my community.  I am completely disinterested in empty political gestures.”