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Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Page: 11456

Mr HALE (7:11 PM) —I would like to add my voice in support of the report Managing our coastal zone in a changing climate: the time to act is now. On Monday the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Climate Change, Water, Environment and the Arts presented this long-anticipated report. Climate change is certainly affecting everyone. It is one of the most important issues facing not only Australia but our region and the globe.

A great diversity of people were involved in the consultation in Darwin. We had Stuart Blanch, from the World Wildlife Fund; Luccio Cercarelli, Director of Technical Services in the City of Palmerston; me; the guy from the Northern Territory division of the Planning Institute of Australia; Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer, from Darwin City Council; George Roussos, from the Chamber of Commerce; Charles Roche, from the Environment Centre Northern Territory; and Dr Steve Skov, from the Northern Territory Regional Committee of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine. That just shows the diversity of people that are involved when it comes to the challenge we are facing with climate change.

Just to localise it for a moment, obviously we have got World Heritage listed areas within the Northern Territory, such as Kakadu, that are under threat through the tidal surges that are occurring in our major rivers, the South and East Alligator, through climate change. For too long I think that this subject was not broached. It is happening all around Australia. I was on the Great Ocean Road with the Prime Minister’s Country Task Force this year, and in the coastal regions of Lorne and Apollo Bay they spoke about the erosion and how they had never seen it as bad. They had never seen the sea encroaching as far as it is and causing erosion, which obviously affects their tourist industry and affects the livelihoods of those coastal communities.

I congratulate the member for Throsby, Jennie George, who is the committee chair, and her deputy chair, Dr Mal Washer. They had a very responsible job and did fantastic work in preparing the report. I must admit that I have only just begun to read it, but I think that all members should make the time to read this report. It is vitally important to all our regions, regardless of whether you are in central New South Wales, in South Australia, in the Kimberley, in Darwin, in Cairns or down in Tasmania, as the member for Page alluded to.

As a parliament, I really do hope that, over the coming weeks, we can sit down with the opposition and work through the issues with regard to the ETS and the CPRS. I think it is absolutely vital that we as a parliament have a firm policy in place when we go to Copenhagen. It is far better for us to be in the room negotiating and protecting our industries that are emissions intense. Certainly being in the room, we can go into bat for industries such as the coal industry and agriculture. By not having a policy and not being firmly in agreement across the parliament as to how to approach this, you are not in the debate. It is so important that we take a responsible view as a parliament and that we can work together. I commend the member for Groom for his efforts in bringing in a position from the coalition’s point of view that they can work with with Senator Wong and Minister Combet in relation to coming up with a position that Australia can take forward, so that we can really be part of the solution regarding climate change and not part of the problem. That is vitally important.

I once again commend the chair of this committee on the diligent work that she has done with this report. I think it is one of the most anticipated reports in the time that I have been in this place, and I look forward to reading it in its entirety. I congratulate everyone who was involved in what is, I believe, one of the most important reports that this parliament has produced over the last 12 months.