House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Constituency Statements

Mitchell Electorate: Clean Up Australia Day

10:03 am

Photo of Alex HawkeAlex Hawke (Mitchell, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

It's my pleasure today to speak about some of the voluntary traditions in my electorate of Mitchell. We have one of the highest volunteer rates in the country, and many of the suburbs of Mitchell are always leading the top of the charitable donations list in Sydney. I want to praise the community spirit that was on display on Clean Up Australia Day recently, on Sunday, 4 March, out in the Third Settlement Reserve in Winston Hills. It's a great part of the electorate of Mitchell, Winston Hills, and Northmead in particular. It was a great coming together of the community, particularly the children from the Winston Hills Girl Guides and the Winston Hills Scouts—the work ethic to roll up their sleeves and get involved in taking care of their local environment. The Third Settlement Reserve of Australia is so named because Toongabbie was the third settlement of the colony of New South Wales, so there is some great history and onsite heritage of our nation there.

I want to thank Norma O'Hare from the Winston Hills Girl Guides and Des Saunders from the Winston Hills Scout Group for their assistance in getting so many young people involved—so many members of the community. I've run a Clean Up Australia Day site for about 15 years now, before I was in parliament and while I have been in parliament. I find it a fantastic endeavour because it really motivates people to do something themselves, to get out there and take part in their local environment and make sure it is well looked after.

It's vital, of course, to continue this tradition of helping ourselves and helping each other, getting involved in good environmental practices as human beings in those communities, looking after our local creeks and waterways, getting into recycling and waste disposal practices—within our homes but also as good citizens within the environment we live in. It's important for our children to understand the importance of this and of pitching in for our local environment, given the fabulous environment we have in the Hills District, particularly Northmead and Winston Hills.

I'm so grateful to everyone who turned up. We had a big turnout on the day. We filled a lot of rubbish bags. We pulled a lot of things out of the creek. We certainly did a lot of local environmental restoration at the same time. We joined half a million locals around the country and community groups that work together to pick up some 16,000 tonnes of rubbish across Australia on the day. Really, when you think about the impact of doing that every single year, it's a great, powerful vision for Australia—where we all get together and do something ourselves, not rely on the government, not look to other people, but say, 'We can do something to make a difference every single year and help our environment.'

Clean Up Australia Day has now been running for 28 years. That's 33 million volunteer hours and 350,000 ute-loads of rubbish. There's so much more to be done. But the tradition of bringing up our young people to take care of the local environment themselves, and to have that ownership of the local creek, the local park, the local bush and their local environment as a whole, is even more important in the big cities that we have now in Sydney and Melbourne, where people sometimes don't have a lot of experience of living in the regions or on the land.

It's a great day. I want to thank everybody involved. I want to thank my community for being such a great volunteer community. I look forward to doing it all again next year and every year to come.