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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2785

Environment


Mrs McNAMARA (Dobell) (15:05): My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister update the House on the progress of the government's Green Army Program? And how is the Green Army delivering environmental benefits and preparing young Australians for work?


Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (15:05): I want to thank the member for Dobell, who is a great practical environmentalist. And, indeed, with this question she has matched the entire output of questions from the entire Labor Party front and back bench in relation to the environment over the last 18 months. She is 55 times more productive than the average Labor member when it comes to questions on the environment. But, more than that, this is a question about a practical environmental program that is rolling out, as it was intended, ahead of schedule and bringing real benefits to the environment without the chaos of the pink batts program, the green loans program, cash for clunkers—which of course was one of Bill's favourites—and no doubt the citizens assembly. So, there is contrast here about how environmental programs can be rolled out.

Where are we at now? There are 117 projects on the ground. Already over 20 of those have been completed around the country. We said we would achieve 250 projects, or 2½ thousand young people on the ground by 30 June. In fact, we expect to beat that number and be well ahead of it. We have already announced 548 projects over the next year and a half. These are practical projects for real delivery right around the country. That includes, for example, Richmond, where we have 13 projects; Cunningham, six projects; and Maribyrnong, five projects. The Leader of the Opposition is welcome to get up and get out of his office and come and see the work of young people in his electorate on the ground. I do not think he has been. We would like to see him there. He is welcome at any time.

That brings me to what we have seen in the electorate of Dobell. Projects at Tuggerah Lakes and The Entrance have been involved in removing lantana, improving vegetation and rehabilitating the landscape. What have young people said? At the recent graduation, Nick Portelli from the member for Dobell's electorate, said: 'The training was great. The supervisor was confident. The team enjoyed great dynamics and worked well together.' This is about giving young people the opportunity to work in the environment, to develop skills and to give themselves a future. At a recent graduation that I attended a young man, Daniel, who was previously unemployed and had low motivation, said, at the end of it: 'I now have a job. I'm working in my chosen area of landscape gardening. Without Green Army I would not be the person that I am.' At the end of the day, these are real jobs making a real difference to young people and the environment, and you can compare what we have done with Green Army with what he did with pink batts.

Mr Abbott: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.