On January 30, Friends of Malabar Headland representatives met with Greg Hunt MP, the Federal Opposition Spokesman for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage, Senator Bill Heffernan and the endorsed Liberal Party candidate for the Federal seat of Kingsford-Smith.

One purpose of the meeting, which was attended by a number of local environmental activists, was to identify environmental projects for the Federal Opposition’s proposed Green Army, which would consist of thousands of volunteers working on environmental remediation projects throughout Australia.

Dr Feneley had proposed to Greg Hunt that a suitable Green Army project might be to assist the Friends of Malabar Headland, particularly focusing on our weeding and other activity in the eastern bushland section.

FoMH is not supportive of Malabar Headland as a Green Army project site because:

  • an extensive program of civil works commissioned by the Commonwealth has commenced there and will run for more than a year
  • there are workplace health and safety issues (WHS) specific to the site that are likely to be exacerbated by these works
  • the work FoMH does is often painstaking; it is best done by small groups of experienced people who have the required patience and pay attention to minimising damage to ground level vegetation and areas of the endangered ecological community Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub
  • as well as FoMH, at least one weed control contractor is already employed on site by the Commonwealth.

However FoMH sees merit in the Green Army proposal and agreed to try to identify other sites in the South Eastern peninsula where excellent work could be done by a “Green Army” as long as:

  • the projects are carefully designed and managed
  • effective supervision is provided.

Dr Feneley is understandably anxious to ensure that our area benefits from the enormous manpower on offer for environmental projects should a Coalition government be elected.

Dr Feneley explained that Green Army projects are intended to be highly collaborative and led by community environmental groups rather than being managed with a top-down approach. Each team would consist of 10 people, one of whom must be an experienced, salaried supervisor, while the others are young volunteers. These volunteers would be paid a training wage and would receive skills training and education for 20% of their project time.

At very short notice, FoMH produced a list of six projects that it considers are worthwhile and suitable for the Green Army as we understand it. The projects are:

  • Weed removal, creek stabilisation and ground preparation, South Eastern Equestrian Club site, Matraville
  • Bitou bush removal, bush regeneration and park creation, Little Bay Beach North at the site of the Male Lazaret (leper colony)
  • Bitou bush and lantana removal behind Little Congwong beach
  • Bitou bush and lantana removal, Happy Valley, La Perouse
  • Removal of drift plastic and glass, Curwee Cove
  • Bitou bush removal, reserved bushland areas Prince Henry north and south

The projects are outlined in a document prepared by FoMH – Potential Green Army Projects – South Eastern Peninsula.

This document was well received by Greg Hunt, Michael Feneley and Bill Heffernan who requested our permission to use it as a template for other groups preparing Green Army project proposals.

Other groups are welcome to read our document, comment on our proposals and develop their own proposals which they can pass on to Dr Feneley and Greg Hunt.