House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Questions without Notice


2:55 pm

Photo of Tim WilsonTim Wilson (Goldstein, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment. How is the Morrison government's comprehensive approach and matching investment in climate adaptation working towards the creation of a more resilient and prosperous Australia?

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

I thank the member for his question and note his support for community environment projects in the electorate of Goldstein. We occupy the driest inhabited continent on earth, and we've always managed our landscapes in the face of a changing climate. Australians understand better than most the importance of adapting to harsh climatic conditions, not just to avoid loss through events like natural disasters but also to unlock opportunities.

Our environmental scientists are world leading. For example, researchers at the University of Southern Queensland are working to understand which variant of coffee bean will best suit changes in climate, an issue that I know is of deep importance to the member's constituents in the bayside suburbs of Melbourne. It's just one example of planting the right crop in the right place for the right conditions and your enterprise becomes more productive. Rural and regional Australians on this side of the House instinctively know that. In Antarctica, the science that Australia is leading is extraordinary—major research on sustainable krill populations, which are vital to the carbon cycle. And our scientists are putting the world's climate in context with the million-year ice core, analysing and recovering that information.

In Queensland, our marine scientists are seeding reefs with heat-resistant corals to help them adapt to warming oceans. Our world-leading coral restoration program is crucial to reef based economies and the work that depends on the reef. For example, the Great Barrier Reef employs 64,000 people, and I know that the special envoy for the reef is fighting for each and every one of those jobs. In the west, our National Environmental Science Program is working with Indigenous rangers to combine science and traditional knowledge to restore the seagrass beds of the World Heritage listed Shark Bay. Healthy estuaries mean healthy breeding grounds for marine life, which in turn mean more-productive fisheries.

These ground-level examples demonstrate part of Australia's $15 billion ongoing commitment to building resilience to a changing climate. Climate adaptation is caring for our country, through practical actions like our National Soil Strategy. The strategy means more organic matter, rich in carbon, in our topsoils, which makes our farms more productive and supports more biodiversity in our landscape. The Morrison government is acutely aware not just of the challenges posed by a changing climate but also of the opportunities.