Thursday, 3 December 2020
Cammeraygal High School, Climate Change, Electric Vehicles
Cammeraygal High School in my electorate is one of the newest high schools on the North Shore. It is a fantastic school that has now been in operation for six years. The teachers of Cammeraygal High School asked me to record a message for their presentation day because, like so many schools, they're restricting numbers to their traditional presentation day ceremony. I thought I would do one better—that is, to send them a shout-out from this parliamentary chamber. I am so proud of all the achievements of the students and teachers of Cammeraygal during its relatively short life. This year, as has been the case for every school, has put all the students of Cammeraygal High School and their teachers to the test. I know that adapting to the pandemic that we currently endure has been a real challenge for those in the education system. I just want to say, on behalf of our entire community, how proud I am of the way in which the whole school community at Cammeraygal has adjusted to cope with what has been a really difficult year.
Cammeraygal High School has had extraordinary leadership at the teacher level, led throughout its history by Kathy Melky, a very fine principal. I send her my best wishes and promise this year not to embarrass her in the way that I did at last year's presentation day ceremony. Cammeraygal High School also has incredible student leadership. I want to particularly acknowledge the two outgoing school captains, Pratham Gupta and Abigail Bobkowski. I have known Pratham since he was in year 7, when I first attended the school. In fact it was the very first function I did as the newly elected member for North Sydney. I remember his excitement and the excitement of young Chriso Chindilas, who showed me around their brand new school and they have every right to continue their excitement, as I know they have to this day. In fact, I thought back then that Chriso, as a 12-year-old, was a future politician. I'm a bit scared because it is almost the time when he will turn 18 and could well be a candidate for parliamentary office—but I would encourage him to wait a few more years before he does!
I want to say to the entire school community—to the teachers, the students and the parents—congratulations on completing your first six years and having your first year 12 HSC students graduating this year. You really are such a fine school that's grown and matured and is providing everyone who comes through your doors with such excellent education and grounding in life. Well done to every student who has been involved.
To change tack a little bit, the last three months has been a very important time as the world and Australia comes to terms with the challenges facing the globe because of climate change. Just this week, we have seen some important reporting from federal government agencies about where we stand. Firstly, we've had the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology report State of the Climate 2020, which reminds us of the extraordinary challenge that we as a nation and, in fact, the world faces. That report confirmed the fact that, since 1910, Australia's climate has warmed on average by 1.44 degrees. It also points to the fact that CO2 equivalent gases are at their highest levels in two million years, at 508 parts per million.
But, on the other side of the equation, we've also had the positive news, released by the government this week, from the climate change National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which points to the fact that emissions for the year to June 2020 are at their lowest levels since 1998—in fact, down 16.6 per cent since 2005. There are of course a range of reasons for that, including the impact of the pandemic, but we are seeing the transition in the way in which Australia is operating well underway. I'm actually excited and optimistic about our capacity. I've seen in my own work the incredible contribution that's being made by our scientists. Just recently, for example, I was at UNSW talking to their scientists. That university itself is responsible for so much of the technology that the world is now using to bring down its emissions.
But I do want to pause on one area, and that's the transport sector, and say how disappointed I am that we have seen in the last month several states moving to introduce taxes on electric vehicles. Transport accounts for 18.3 per cent of our emissions. We need to be encouraging new technology like electric vehicles, not putting clamps around its progress. For a country that still faces enormous challenges in seeing EVs reach maturity, it is just absolutely outrageous and ridiculous that states like Victoria and South Australia are introducing taxes and New South Wales considering it. I want to conclude by pleading with them to recognise that this is the type of technology that we need, and taxes and charges are not going to help encourage Australians to buy EVs, which we surely need them to do.