Thursday, 4 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is caring for our country by continuing to protect and enhance our natural environment, including through safeguarding our biodiversity and iconic species and working to ensure a stronger Australia in 2021?
I thank the member for Wentworth for his question and acknowledge the keen interest of his constituents in this important policy area. The Morrison government is committed to safeguarding Australia's unique natural landscapes. We all have a role in caring for our country, be it on land or sea. Since 2014, we've supported thousands of local community projects throughout Australia, planting trees, cleaning up waterways and creeks, rebuilding after natural disasters—protecting, improving and repairing our environment.
When it comes to our most iconic species, people think of the koala, and I know that the koala is loved nationally and internationally. I want to reassure the House that the recent $18 million package to support this furry marsupial is progressing well, with 60 experts meeting this week and enthusiastically helping us to design the next step. We will see habitat restoration, the first ever national koala census and ways of treating koalas to keep them healthy. People are keen and caring and want to be part of this commitment.
Recently, I was in Tasmania with the member for Bass, meeting with her land managers and natural resource management groups about the eastern barred bandicoot. This is a perfect coming together of farmers and conservationists, and, again, it's a $1.7 million investment. It is simple, practical actions that can make a difference. Farmers were learning how to mow grass differently and make hay differently so that they don't run over this small marsupial.
One year on from the Black Summer bushfires, our $200 million investment in habitat and wildlife recovery is seeing results. As areas recover, volunteers are out there on their hands and knees pulling out weeds, helping build barriers against feral pests, putting up nest boxes, collecting seeds and playing the role of citizen scientists by tracking where plants are growing and where animals are coming back. Over a million hectares of feral animal control has been undertaken. Seven thousand hectares of weed control and over 700 hectares of erosion control have been completed. I want to thank all those community groups out there caring for our country.
The strong track record of coalition governments also includes protection of our oceans: cleaning up discarded fishing nets, those walls of death with the bycatch that suffers; the work we're doing with the Great Barrier Reef—$1.9 billion of investment; the real outcomes when it comes to taking plastic litter out of our oceans; cleaning up our beaches; and making sure that communities are as involved as they want to be. Be it on land or at sea, we're taking practical—(Time expired)