The Federal Government’s axing of the Green Army was a disastrous decision for North Queensland, according to Federal Member for Dawson, George Christensen.
Mr Christensen told participants at today’s Green Army graduation in Mackay that he would not play the government’s line on the Green Army program, which will cease on June 30 next year.
“Frankly, I was ticked off when the government announced the Green Army was axed. Green Army projects across North Queensland have ticked a lot boxes over the past few years; teaching new skills, helping the environment, and getting young people into jobs.’’
Graduates at today’s ceremony in Mackay worked on several areas around the Bluewater Trail and at DeMoylen’s Lagoon, as well as clean-up work after Cyclone Debbie.
The Liberal National Coalition committed to raising a Green Army in the 2013 election campaign and established the program soon after taking office.
The program’s central mission was to create an “army” of 15,000 unemployed young people to work on conservation projects such as landscape restoration in the local community.
“I have seen first-hand the great work the Green Army has done with weed eradication, native species propagation, and cleaning up sensitive environments. In terms of positive, concrete outcomes, it’s hard to go past the Green Army.”
The Green Army was axed in the mid-year budget update in December, in the wake of a deal with the Greens over the backpacker tax.
Mr Christensen said the Greens secured a commitment on Landcare funding in exchange for support on the backpacker tax.
“The deal might have been a good deal for Landcare and the Greens, but if it means chopping the Green Army Program to cover the cost, the deal was a dud.”