Labor Lord mayoral candidate Tracy Price and the Brisbane Labor Party have unveiled their plan to prioritise climate resilience, organic waste recycling, and protecting natural assets.

“As we deal with the ongoing effects of climate change, we need to better prepare our city and suburbs, and invest in protecting our unique way of life,” Ms Price said.

Leader of the Opposition in Council, Councillor Jared Cassidy, criticised the LNP’s record on environmental issues.

“After 20 long years of a lack of action on climate change from the conservative LNP in Council, Labor has a strong plan to prepare our city and suburbs for the future and protect Brisbane’s unique way of life.”

Development in flood-prone areas

Labor’s plan calls for a comprehensive review of the City Plan to implement higher standards and restrictions on developments in known flood-affected areas, and a reinstatement of the flood buy-back scheme with a $5 million annual investment.

In June, Mayor Adrian Schrinner proposed the Kurilpa Sustainable Growth Precinct, which faced opposition from the Greens and Labor in Council but was carried by the LNP majority.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles rejected Council’s original plan in October but approved a similar instrument (TLPI 02/2023), which community groups argued did not address their original concerns about lack of affordable housing provisions and allowing for developments on a known flood plain.

Last week Council moved to formally commence a process to amend the Brisbane City Plan 2014 to give ongoing effect to include the precinct plan for the Kurilpa Sustainable Growth Precinct. Greens Councillor Trina Massey and Independent Nicole Johnston voted against the motion, but the five Labor Councillors abstained despite Labor having voted against the initial TLPI in June this year.

Asked how she reconciles Labor’s policy to restrict development in known flood-affected areas when Labor abstained from voting on the proposed amendment, Ms Price said:

“Since the TLPI was originally rushed through Council by the LNP, we’ve raised our concerns about the fact the Kurilpa peninsular is on a flood plain. It’s disappointing that the LNP have used their massive majority to get their own way, without taking any issues – whether that be flooding, appropriate and adequate public infrastructure, or the fact that people don’t want 90 stories – on board.”

“Should Brisbane Labor be successful in March, our approach would be to carefully consider flooding as part of the City Plan in future developments. We did not support the introduction of the Kurilpa TLPI by the LNP and the planning scheme amendment that Labor Councillors did not vote in favour of was simply a map, not the amendment that would ensure community consultation on all aspects of the plan. We did not support this, because we aren’t confident this amendment will meet the community’s expectations.”

Climate Resilience Strategy

Labor’s plan also includes a substantial increase in funding for drainage, flood mitigation, and disaster preparedness to address the urgent need for climate adaptation. Among the key initiatives are an annual increase in the suburban drainage budget, new storm-water drainage projects and maintenance funding for storm-water systems.

Asked about early warning systems such as gauges to monitor river levels, Ms Tracey Price said Brisbane Labor would be happy to discuss particular issues with key locals and stakeholders to determine the best outcomes for them.

“More telemetry gauges on the Brisbane River and on suburban creeks and waterways that affect flooding are needed, so people can have more real-time warning on flood threats. This is something Labor Councillors have been calling for since the 2022 flood disaster,” Ms Price said.

Food Organics, Garden Organics (FOGO) waste management

Labor has promised a full-scale Food Organics, Garden Organics (FOGO) waste management system, diverting one hundred per cent of organic waste from landfills. Labor says the initiative is expected to save over $600 million for ratepayers over the next decade, reducing resident rates.

This month, The Lord Mayor announced an expansion of Council’s new Towards Zero Waste strategy, which contains measures to reduce the amount of residents’ waste going to landfill. Its expanded food waste recycling service will include more than 5,290 new households, including in West End, from 1 February next year.

 “Labor must come clean with how much their big-spending promises will cost and what impact they’ll have on the rates and rents paid by Brisbane households,” a Schrinner Council spokesperson said.

Shift away from the commercialisation of public spaces.

Labor also announced a shift away from commercialising public spaces, focusing on revitalising King George Square as a subtropical oasis with trees, water features, and shade. This initiative is part of a broader effort to preserve public spaces like Victoria Park and Mt Coot-Tha from over-commercialisation.

While she stopped short of saying Labor would halt the Lumina Light Show planned for the Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, Ms Price raised concerns about the environmental impacts of the project.

“Brisbane is full of brilliant, open public spaces and they should be available for all to enjoy. I’m saddened to see that the LNP in Council has commercialised yet another public landmark against the wishes of the community.”

“Over 600 residents signed a petition outlining their concerns around the Lumina Light Walk.”

Ms Price said the LNP in Council should be investing in more experiences and attractions everyone can enjoy – free of charge. “Instead, they’re locking the public out of the Botanic Gardens for what could be up to 200 nights for at least the next five years.”

“There are serious concerns around the impact on the natural environment, and the risks to the wildlife that call the gardens home.”

“It’s time for Adrian Schrinner and the LNP to stop selling off Brisbane’s beautiful public spaces to the highest bidder and start listening to residents. Brisbane’s public spaces should not be for sale.”

Collaborating for the environment?

Asked if Labor will work with the Greens in Council to achieve outcomes for the environment, Cr Cassidy said Jonathan Sriranganathan “is not an environmentalist”.

“I rarely heard him mention the environment once in the 7 years he was a Councillor, and his election platform would best be described as part anarchy and part regulation. He doesn’t have a clear vision for Brisbane, as far as I can tell.

“Labor’s environmental policies are the most robust of any party in Council. We have a plan to plant more trees, protect more bushland, build electric buses, and remove 100,000 tonnes of waste from landfill each year. The Greens have been silent on all of these things.

Cassidy said Labor is campaigning to win a majority in Council and will pursue its policy agenda no matter the composition of the Chamber.

“If the LNP, the Greens, or Independent Councillors want to work with us on delivering our agenda, we’d welcome their support”.