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On National Tree Day, let's halt land clearing.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION JOINT STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON SIMON CREAN MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE

KELVIN THOMSON MP

On National Tree Day, let’s halt land clearing

Labor today calls for an immediate halt to land clearing as we recognise the efforts of hundreds of thousands of volunteers working to protect our environment on National Tree Day.

Volunteers play a critical role in the restoration and protection of our environment and natural heritage.

Yet for every tree planted by volunteers, John Howard allows up to one hundred to be cut down under indiscriminate land clearing laws.

In 2000, Australia cleared more than 560,000 hectares of bushland or three thousand football fields every day - the sixth worst land-clearing rate on earth.

Land clearing causes rising salt levels in our soils and rivers. It destroys habitat for birds and animals, degrades the land and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions from cleared and rotting vegetation.

If we stop clearing now, we will prevent an even bigger repair bill later. It is estimated that it is up to 20 times more expensive to re-plant trees than to prevent them being cleared in the first place.

The task ahead to repair our land is big enough without making it any bigger. Lets commit to a more sustainable future - let’s stop land clearing now.

John Howard has failed to address land clearing and his failure is undermining the significant efforts of volunteers across Australia.

Labor will not only work with volunteers, but we’ll back their cause. Today, after helping volunteers plant 1,000 trees in Melbourne, we are launching a petition calling on John Howard to halt land clearing now.

The petition will be distributed today at tree planting sites around Australia and will be tabled in Parliament when it resumes in August.

A Labor Government will stop the further decline in our native vegetation and ensure that all the good work of volunteers does not go to waste.

Melbourne 28 July 2002