House debates

Monday, 24 June 2013

Private Members' Business

Protection of National Parks

8:48 pm

Photo of Steve GeorganasSteve Georganas (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to support this motion and to oppose any moves that seek to remove protections that were put in place to protect biodiversity and the environment in Australia. In my home state of South Australia we are fortunate to have a state government that is committed to protecting South Australia's beautiful natural environment. For those of you who have had the pleasure of going to Kangaroo Island, the Flinders Ranges, Mount Lofty or anywhere in between, you will know why all South Australians have a special interest in protecting our biodiversity and especially our natural flora and fauna. In fact, the state government, in order to protect Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, recently blocked a mining project at Arkaroola because it saw the benefit in this wonderful environmentally beautiful place.

Too often we have seen other state governments treat the environment as an afterthought and only care about exploiting our natural environment. Liberal-National state governments have introduced cattle grazing in conservation parks. They think that logging is acceptable in our endangered rainforests and believe there should be almost no restrictions on where a mine can be placed. Only three days ago I got an email from Mr Elliott, a constituent in my electorate of Hindmarsh, who said:

I have never written to the local member of parliament before. Do press the issue of protecting our national parks in whatever way you can. It is not looking flash after developments in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and this is decidedly worrying.

You know, Mr Deputy Speaker, the community is right to be concerned that the precious places that we all enjoy and take for granted are under threat.

At a federal government level there are two possible futures for Australia's national parks. The LNP plan to disregard our national parks and wreck them for future generations of Australians, just as their state colleagues are doing. The Labor plan is to continue to protect these places for the future. The CSIRO in a recent report titled Queensland's biodiversity under climate change: impacts and adoption made it absolutely clear that there are big threats to Queensland's biodiversity under the current state government directions and possibly the biggest threat to biodiversity and endangered species is that of climate change. That is why this government made the very tough and courageous decision to put a price on carbon, because we do not want to leave future generations of Australia with a barren wasteland

That is what will happen if we do not take action on climate change. I want our children and our grandchildren to enjoy the natural beauty that I have been able to enjoy here in Australia and every corner that this great land—and it is a great land, a wonderful land—has to offer us.

On a very positive note, only recently the World Heritage Committee recognised the Australian government's progress in protecting the Great Barrier Reef. They made particular mention of the $200 million injected into the next stage of the Reef Rescue Program. This is on top of the Australian government acting to protect our oceans by delivering the world's largest network of marine reserves. We need to protect our natural environment and make the tough decisions to keep our biodiversity strong.


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