House debates

Tuesday, 7 February 2023



7:44 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My electorate of Newcastle is home to a beautiful and rugged coastal environment. Located on the traditional lands of the Awabaka and Warramay peoples, our wetlands, rivers, creeks and beaches are the envy of the world, home to diverse wildlife and beautiful bird species and enjoyed by Novocastrians year-round.

My community knows better than most the importance of ensuring this beautiful environment is protected, but our current environment laws are not working as they should. Nature is being destroyed and businesses are waiting too long for decisions. Things have to change. That's why the Albanese Labor government has announced the biggest environmental reform agenda in a generation. We are seeking to turn the tide on this country from nature destruction to nature repair. As announced by the Minister for the Environment and Water, Hon. Tanya Plibersek, in December, we will build our legislation on three basic principles: clear national standards of environmental protection, improving and speeding up decisions and building trust and integrity.

The Albanese Labor government will establish a new Environmental Protection Agency to make development decisions and properly enforce them. The new Environmental Protection Agency will take the politics out of decisions and help restore trust to a system that badly needs it. We will introduce new national environmental standards, against which conservation protection and major development applications will be measured. We will improve conservation planning and direct funding where it's needed and we will ensure there is transparency and openness around decision-making and environment data. Our plans to overhaul the country's environment laws have been welcomed by environment, business, community and First Nations groups. As Glenn Walker at Greenpeace Australia put it, these reforms 'present a major opportunity to set Australia on a path to stronger environmental protection and should bring hope to all Australians'. And we won't stop there.

We're funding the Environmental Defenders Office for the first time in nine years. We're supporting an additional 1,000 new Landcare rangers, doubling the number of First Nations rangers and supporting new Indigenous protected areas. We are committed to protecting, restoring and managing Australia's unique biodiversity, including threatened species and their habitat. The Albanese government's commitment of $224.5 million for the Saving Native Species program will help to protect threatened species.

I know my community of Newcastle will be particularly pleased to hear this. The diversity of landscape in the city, coastline, wetlands, flood plains, forest ridges and gullies are home to a diverse range of ecosystems and native flora and fauna. We are committed to zero new extinctions on this continent, and we have pledged a national goal of protecting 30 per cent of our land and 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030.

The Albanese Labor government is backing a recycling and circular economy with new funding and stronger laws. We're investing $250 million in infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture materials such as mixed plastic, glass, paper and tires into valuable commodities. This includes $60 million of hard-to-recycle plastics such as soft plastics. Led by the federal environment minister, Hon. Tanya Plibersek, environment ministers from across Australia have agreed to reform the regulation of packaging by 2025 to ensure that all packaging in Australia is designed to be recovered, reused, recycled and reprocessed. We recently announced the formation of a ministerial advisory group on the circular economy.

A healthy environment sits at the heart of our national legacy. Australians understand this. Novocastrians understand this. They voted for the environment in the last election, and after a wasted decade, the Albanese government will not waste another minute.