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Welcome to the latest edition of Clark Matters, my monthly email newsletter to help keep you abreast of federal politics and what I’ve been up to.

Macquarie Point stadium

Macquarie Point in Hobart has been treated as a plaything by a succession of Tasmanian governments and the latest idea from the current State Government for a $715 million AFL stadium, that would be largely funded by the taxpayer, is downright offensive. Macquarie Point is a special place and should be a free and accessible area for the whole community.

Moreover while I, like many Tasmanians, would like a Tassie AFL team, there are so many more pressing issues in our state. More than 4,500 people on the housing waiting list, a health system on the brink of collapse, chronic underfunding of education and increasing traffic congestion – the list goes on.

I’ve reached out to both the Prime Minister and the current Federal Minister for Infrastructure and made it perfectly clear that I don’t support the Tasmanian Government’s request for hundreds of millions of dollars to build the stadium. Fingers crossed that common sense prevails and the Federal Government stays well clear of this folly.

Environmental laws

It’s good to see the Federal Government commit to a raft of changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, including strengthened environmental standards and an independent environment protection agency. The current EPBC Act is weak, outdated and fails to deliver positive environmental outcomes. These new reforms will go a significant way towards protecting our threatened species and ecosystems and help reverse the damage already done to the environment.

That the new EPA agency will have the power to decide whether or not developments proceed, and there will be a system implemented to identify areas that should be fully protected from development, will put more trust in the process and remove political influence.

However, as noted by a number of conservation groups, there are still shortcomings. Most notably, there is too little consideration of climate change on the environment, a lack of urgency in implementation and uncertainty over funding. Clearly there’s still more work to be done if we’re to be genuinely fair dinkum about protecting the environment.

Electricity prices

I was pleased to unexpectedly return to Canberra last week to join in the debate and support the Government’s intervention in the coal and gas markets. While I would have preferred much bolder intervention, and in particular a windfall tax, the measures like a temporary price cap should eventually slow up rapidly rising power prices.

The response of the coal and gas companies gave us further insight into their character. Their arguments against reform were hysterically dishonest and nothing more than a self-serving attempt to protect their profits, profits which have surged astronomically as the companies have capitalised on the tragic war in Ukraine.

Yours sincerely
Andrew Wilkie