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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14718


Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (10:37): Our planet is increasingly being harmed by human activity, which is directly contributing to: climate change; earth, air and ocean pollution; overuse and depletion of natural resources; the loss of natural habitat; and the extinction of flora and fauna. Scientists estimate that 150 to 200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours. About seven million people die from air pollution each year, and air pollution in some parts of the world has reached crisis levels. Over one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by ocean pollution each year. Deforestation is causing animal extinction while adding to air and soil pollution levels. Yet, in the face of mounting scientific evidence, visible environmental catastrophes and more frequent extreme weather events, mankind is not doing anywhere near enough to prevent the destructive trajectory that our planet is on.

The quotation 'Nero fiddles while Rome burns' well describes the widespread indifference to the global environmental demise being caused. Claims that climate change is not real and that we're experiencing normal weather cycles or that the environment is resilient and will recover are pathetic responses by those in denial or by those who put profits before responsibility. Sadly, it will be future generations who will pay dearly for today's mismanagement. Already in Australia we are seeing and paying for the negative health effects of environmental degradation; the devastating impact on farmers of extreme weather events, soil pollution and water shortages; the depletion of fishing stocks; and the loss of species that serve an ecological purpose. Our national icon the Great Barrier Reef is likely to be almost completely wiped out if global warming reaches two degrees Celsius.

So of course I strongly back Labor's announcement that, if elected, Labor will create a national container deposit scheme; establish a national waste commissioner; invest $60 million in a national recycling fund; work with neighbouring countries to clean up the Pacific Ocean; invest $200 million in the urban rivers and corridors program to clean up our urban waterways and stop plastics from reaching the oceans; set a national electric vehicle target of 50 per cent of new car sales by 2030; and work with businesses and households to bring down pollution. Those commitments are in addition to a suite of measures that Labor has already announced, including an emissions reduction target of 45 per cent and a Renewable Energy Target of 50 per cent by 2030.

With climate change policy, international unity and commitment is needed to protect the planet. Every country shares responsibility for what is happening to our world. The longer the issues are ignored, the greater will be the consequences and the more difficult will become our ability to repair the damage.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Dr McVeigh ): Before I call the next speaker, I put to the chamber that, if no member present objects, three-minute constituency statements may continue for a total of 60 minutes.