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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13386

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (12:22): I join with members that have acknowledged the fact that young Australians are very environmentally conscious and I thank the member for Ryan for bringing this motion to the House. Young Australians are interested in protecting our precious natural environment. That is why if you ask young people about climate change they are adamant that climate change is one of the biggest problems facing our society, and that they need governments to listen to what they are saying and to act. They want to make sure that when they have children and grandchildren there will still be an environment to enjoy. If we do not care and protect our environment, then we are doing a great disservice to young Australians, and especially to those young Australians who have been working on the Green Army projects throughout Australia.

The Green Army projects have delivered some real benefits to people who are involved in them. They have made some real changes in the environment in my area. In very little distinct projects that have been conducted it is one tiny aspect of what we as a nation need to do to protect our environment. We need to have strict legislation in place that prohibits the vandalisation of our environment; we need legislation that is not going to get rid of the environmental protection act—giving states the power to make decisions on very important environmental projects. And we need to carefully consider every decision that government takes in relation to that environmental protection. Of course, as I started off saying, no decision is more important than recognising the need to act on climate change and not to put our heads in the sand, because the Green Army will not lead to a change there.

On 29 October, I visited the graduation of two Green Army projects in Shortland. One was the second stage of a bush rehabilitation project on the Lake Munmorah and Budgie Lake foreshore. The young people that were involved in it had worked to combat coastal estuary and bushland degradation and to ensure that the sites had a suitable level of existing and new landcare group volunteers to continue the work—the Green Army working in conjunction with Landcare. It included applying best practice bush regeneration techniques, weeding, planting, erosion control, stormwater treatment, and looking at improving biodiversity and species habitat. That was one project.

The other project was a coastal dune care and lake foreshore project. This is a project I have had a close connection with for many years—not as a Green Army project but through my contact with the Dunecare group who have rehabilitated all the dunes in that area. The Green Army are assisting them to continue what they have been doing: best practice bush regeneration techniques, combined with combating coastal and lake foreshore degradation, undertaking further dune stabilisation and, in general, making sure that the area is enhanced and protected.

I congratulate each and every one of the people who completed and graduated from that program. Many of those involved in the program have degrees and they were using the Green Army projects to hone their skills. However, whilst I laud the projects and I thank from the bottom of my heart those young people who were involved, I call on the government to do much more in the area of environmental protection and caring for the future of Australia. (Time expired)