House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Bills

Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021; Consideration in Detail

10:21 am

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | Hansard source

It's a pleasure to be here as part of this consideration in detail to inform and promote the work that is being done in the agriculture portfolio. I am delighted that the member for Wentworth is joining me to, again, defend, if we need to—although I am sure the messages coming from the other side will be a broad endorsement of our approach. It's very unclear what the Labor Party's approach is in the environment because we haven't seen detailed policy. However, in the government we have a detailed policy, because we know that every Australian knows that our iconic environment is front and centre and part of our national identity. We're committed to protecting and preserving it for future generations. What that means is practical and meaningful action to preserve, protect and restore the environment.

That proud and strong record continues a coalition track record on the environment with comprehensive policies that we've reconfirmed during this year's budget. They deliver crucial environmental recovery and restoration activities with an additional $1.8 billion over five years in brand new investments. We have invested the single biggest amount ever in Australia's Commonwealth national parks with more than $233 million injected into tourism and other infrastructure. This funding will upgrade park sites across Uluru, Kakadu, Booderee, Christmas and Norfolk Islands, creating thousands of jobs for regional communities. Yes, that does link to the environment because those tourists come to see our unique and special natural environment.

That's in addition to the $216 million we pledged last year to upgrade and remediate Kakadu National Park. We are helping our tourism industry come back better by enhancing more of our magnificent heritage-listed sites across the country, such as Budj Bim in Victoria, the first ever site listed on the World Heritage List for its Indigenous cultural values, and how proud that moment was. The Gondwana rainforest and the Tasmanian wilderness will all benefit from funding from this year's budget.

Fifty million dollars has been earmarked to begin implementing the first stage of recommendations of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust review, protecting and preserving heritage sites, because, of course, the environment portfolio includes heritage and that includes the built environment as well. We are continuing to rollout our $100 million Environment Restoration Fund. It's supporting large-scale projects across the country, like restoring koala habitat in northern New South Wales and working towards Bruny, Flinders and French Islands to be feral and cat-free.

Our commitment to Antarctica is demonstrated by investments totalling $2.8 billion, including $1.9 billion to deliver and run a new ice breaker over 30 years and build the first permanent runway on the continent. We are the first government to have a comprehensive 20-year strategy for Antarctica. I never heard one coming from the Labor Party in the six years that I saw them in opposition in this place.

Oceans, marine ecosystems and the Great Barrier Reef are of interest to many Australians. Our oceans package of $67 million is being invested to protect our oceans and our marine ecosystems, including $14 million to tackle the impact of ghost nets and $20 million through the relief and recovery fund to establish native oyster reefs, which are about water quality as well as recreational fishing. It is about marine habitat around our coastlines. Building on our international leadership, we are investing in international blue carbon and rainforest partnerships to protect coastal and rainforest ecosystems. We are doing that very well with our Pacific neighbours. That's on top of the $1.9 billion over a decade for the Great Barrier Reef. That includes funding to improve water quality, manage crown-of-thorns starfish, and remove and reduce marine debris and pollution. We've also got an ambitious, world-leading reef restoration and adaptation program. This is unprecedented investment in our reef.

Then there's bushfire recovery. We're committed to recovering, restoring and rehabilitating following the devastating Black Summer bushfires, but we're also readying ourselves for another such event because we know that climate change and longer periods of drought increase the risk and intensity of bushfires. I'm developing plans with the seven fire-scarred areas across Australia, looking at how community groups want to get involved in building back better when it comes to revegetating, and preparing the communities, working closely with the fire agencies and working closely with the natural environment.

We've always lived in a changing environment, and climate adaptation and resilience inform the National Environmental Science Program, which has just received another allocation of close to $150 million to support the work of our scientists who do the critical informative work that underpins the expert science approach to what we do in the Environment portfolio, matched with that fantastic on-the-ground engagement.

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