Thursday, 18 February 2021
Matters of Public Importance
Thank you for the opportunity to outline the Morrison government's unwavering commitment to protecting and preserving our iconic and spectacular natural environment now and for generations to come. Our government is committed to protecting our environment and, at the same time, providing real economic leadership and reform as we prepare for our post-pandemic world.
There are many examples that illustrate this, but I will outline three key areas of substantial investment. Firstly, in the Morrison government's most recent budget, we've made significant commitments to protect our oceans and waterways and to preserve our pristine national parks and heritage areas.
We're also now transforming our nation's waste industry. Any MP in this House who's been to a local school will know how schools engage with and embrace waste and recovery and recycling. Now it's time that we, as an Australian community, get up and start to really lean into a circular economy, and that is where we are showing leadership with the Morrison government's commitment. We've committed $249.6 million to drive a billion-dollar transformation of our waste and recycling capacity that will not only help save waste but also create 10,000 new jobs over the next decade. These jobs will be generated through new initiatives such as the Recycling Modernisation Fund, the National Waste Policy Action Plan and the implementation of our waste export ban—real investment to create real impact.
Australia generates about 67 million tonnes of waste each year, and only 37 million tonnes of that is recycled. That's why the Morrison government is stepping up. As the Prime Minister has said, 'It's our waste, it's our responsibility.' Our plan will work to end the 645,000 tonnes of rubbish, including plastic, paper, glass and tyres, that we ship overseas, mainly to China. It will also provide the basis for those who design, manufacture and distribute products to take greater responsibility for the impact of those products on the environment. I welcome anyone to look at the science and technology committee's waste and recycling report that has just been delivered to parliament.
Secondly, I'm proud of our package to protect our oceans and marine ecosystems. Australians love the beach, but, more than that, we care about our environment. The package of $67 million includes $14 million to tackle the marine impacts of ghost nets and plastic litter, and $28 million for compliance, enforcement and monitoring activities. We need to put the work into this to make it happen. A further $20 million is being invested, through the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, to re-establish native oyster reefs at 11 sites across the country. This additional funding also means our parks and heritage spaces will receive more than $319 million, with a record $230 million for national park upgrades and $12 million to replace revenue forgone in tourism, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, these are important investments in our natural resources to protect them now and for generations to come.
We're also investing in our wildlife, and this is so important in our post-bushfire environment. I had the pleasure of welcoming the Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, to Melbourne Zoo in early 2020, following the devastating bushfires. We're rolling out $200 million in bushfire, wildlife and habitat recovery funding. This includes phase 2 of our $149 million National Environment Science Program.
Finally, we are updating the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This once-in-a-decade review has listened to over 30,000 voices from across the country, including scientists, businesses, environmental groups, state and territory governments, and our Indigenous Australians. This far-reaching review will work to ensure the act is fit to meet the challenges facing our natural environment.
It's so important that we make sure we embrace the things that matter to all Australians, and that includes our natural environment. I'm proud to be a member of the government who continually champions environmental protection. Our plans are working, and we'll continue implementing initiatives and policies that will create jobs and protect our natural environment.
All Australians should lean into ensuring Australia remains a continent that we can all be proud of, one that we can develop and keep safe for future generations, and one that we can all participate in safely and with confidence.