House debates

Thursday, 18 March 2021



4:35 pm

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to take this opportunity in the House to thank the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Sussan Ley, for visiting my electorate of Bonner recently and meeting with some of our passionate and hardworking environmental groups.

Our first stop was to meet with Angela and her incredible team of volunteers at the Queensland Koala Society. Koalas are one of Australia's most iconic animals, recognisable around the world. But, sadly, we have seen a dramatic decline in numbers. Angela and her team have set up the Queensland Koala Society, a not-for-profit, volunteer organisation, solely for the benefit of koala welfare, education and training. Their rescuers are trained and experienced and have close links with Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital and other wildlife hospitals in Queensland.

Angela has a vision for her organisation: to establish a koala kindy that will help prepare rescued and rehabilitated koalas to be safely released back into the wild. Angela often rescues koala joeys if their mothers have been injured by cars or domestic animals, which means that these babies are handfed and cared for. Before they can be released back into nature, they need to learn the right skills to cope, and a koala kindy is the perfect way to do that. It was fantastic to bring Angela and Minister Ley together to discuss this vision, and I look forward to helping the Queensland Koala Society bring their vision to life.

Our next stop was to meet Ian and the team at Ocean Crusaders, a charity organisation that specialises in waterway cleaning on a large scale. I've been able to secure them a number of federal grants to assist in their community programs that run major clean-ups of waterways and beaches, to help protect our oceans and rivers and the iconic Moreton Bay. Ocean Crusaders' entire campaign is run with a passion for the ocean, operating a social enterprise that sees them working for government organisations and large corporations to clean up waterways on a regular basis. They have the capability to go to many parts of our rivers and estuaries that are nearly impossible to get to, to remove tonnes of waste. With Minister Ley visiting, it gave Ocean Crusaders the chance to show the many programs that they run, from their cleaning station system to their Paddle Against Plastic community events and their Caps Crusade. They also recently purchased a new solar river cleaner, and it was great to see it in action.

Minister Ley's visit to Bonner also fell on the same day that our government announced Australia's first-ever National Plastics Plan. Following last year's first-ever National Plastics Summit, I'm very proud of the Morrison government being the first government to deliver a national plan to reduce plastic waste, increase recycle rates, find alternatives to the plastics that we don't need and put a stop to plastic litter. As Ian from Ocean Crusaders has seen firsthand, plastics that make their way into our waterways and oceans have a devastating impact on wildlife. Well done to Minister Ley and well done to Assistant Minister Trevor Evans for launching the National Plastics Plan, which will have a tremendous impact on our waste, recycling and environment. The highlights of the plan include an end to expanded polystyrene consumer packaging fill and polystyrene food and beverage containers, a plastic-free beaches initiative, a new task force to tackle cigarette litter, a move to ensure that 100 per cent of all packaging is reusable or recyclable, and the phasing in of microplastic filters in washing machines.

The Morrison government is setting out a strong plan for change. This is the plan that will help our environment; create jobs through recycling initiatives; and help get plastic waste out of our oceans, out of our waterways and out of our landfill. Thank you, Minister Ley, for visiting Bonner and meeting with our local environmental groups that share your passion for change and for improving our environment for all of us.