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Wednesday, 12 May 2021
Page: 197


Mr SIMMONDS (Ryan) (17:57): I really want to thank my good friend the member for Bass, who's a wonderful representative in this place for her electorate, for providing the opportunity to speak on what is a terribly important motion to highlight the Morrison government's commitment to our oceans and marine ecosystems and, of course, to the wonderful Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Deputy Speaker Wallace, Australia is home to some of the world's most unique and beautiful oceans, as you know in your wonderful electorate. And, of course, there are some really unique marine ecosystems. In my home state of Queensland, and yours, there exists the unique Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's seven natural wonders. It attracts tourists from all over the globe to witness that incredible marine environment.

The Morrison government is committed, of course, to protecting and preserving our unique oceans and marine ecosystems, which is why the Prime Minister has committed to sustainably manage 100 per cent of the ocean within our national jurisdiction by 2025—a significant milestone. Unlike those opposite, the coalition government ensured the viability of Australia's oceans and reefs by implementing the world's first ocean policy in 1998. That's an achievement of a coalition government. It is often coalition governments that lead the way in practical environmental protection, as opposed to the virtue-signalling of the Labor members opposite. We continue to provide increased funding to conserve these unique marine ecosystems. Not surprisingly, it was also the coalition government who delivered the vital landmark scheme to enhance the management of our marine parks and guarantee their economic viability.

We've taken the initiative in this critical space, and remain a world leader in rainforest partnerships that protect our coastal and rainforest ecosystems. Last night's budget builds on our $67.4 million investment in our ocean and marine ecosystems. This year's budget includes an additional $100 million to protect marine ecosystems and reinforce Australia's position as a world leader in marine park management. Importantly, this funding also invests in practical environmental action to restore and account for our blue carbon ecosystems. This will improve the health of coastal environments while creating jobs and boosting regional employment.

As our economy recovers from COVID-19 it is critical that we ensure that our unique oceans remain healthy and sustainable, and our government recognises the economic benefits that sustainably managed oceans and ocean environments can bring particularly to regional communities. These measures add to our commitment to the Great Barrier Reef and constitute a $1.9 billion investment to implement our Reef 2050 plan. This vital marine plan will ensure adequate federal funding to continue to improve water quality, manage crown-of-thorns starfish and reduce marine debris and pollution and will be an ambitious, world-leading reef restoration and adaption program. It's an unprecedented investment in our reef and goes above and beyond the meagre commitments made by Labor when they were last in government.

Our planet's oceans and climate are intrinsically linked. We know this. The government is committed to investing record funding in renewable energy to reduce our emissions and build healthier oceans. Our investments will guarantee the longevity of our nation's unique oceans and marine ecosystems. Protecting our oceans means protecting our environment and our nation's economic growth by supporting existing ocean industry jobs. The Morrison government's investments will also create new jobs in unique and innovative marine and environmental sectors.

I am passionate about protecting our local unique environment in my electorate of Ryan as well, and we have many, many volunteers who do a tremendous job in doing just that. Although we don't have many ocean environments, we do of course have some wonderful creek ecosystems that contribute to our unique environment. Our creek catchment groups do wonderful work as volunteers, with the support of the federal government, to help with revegetation and to support our local flora and fauna. Since the end of 2019 I've secured over $80,000 worth of environmental grants to assist these local community groups and volunteers to continue the vital work that they do to preserve our natural area. A lot of work is done in conjunction with the Brisbane City Council, and I really want to acknowledge them and their contribution—Australia's first carbon-neutral council—and to thank local organisations in my electorate, such as the Moggill Creek catchment management group, who have benefited from the federal funding and understand firsthand the fragility of local ecosystems and how to care for our unique environment.

It is the coalition government who understands the importance of protecting Australia's oceans and ecosystems. It is our plan that continues to invest in our oceans and reefs to improve our marine ecosystems, reduce our emissions and support regional and remote communities, and we continued to do that in the budget last night. (Time expired)