Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers
That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Birmingham) to a question without notice asked by Senator Hanson-Young today relating to the environment.
My question earlier today was in relation to the Prime Minister's announcement at the G7 summit some two days ago that Australia would be joining the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People. This coalition of some 60 countries is pledged to protect 30 per cent of the world's domestic land and 30 per cent of the world's oceans. Of course, what we have from this announcement is more trickery and more game playing from this government. While on the one hand they have committed to this 30 per cent by 2030, they are saying it is a combined 30 per cent, together protecting the land and protecting the sea, when of course that is not what this coalition of countries is calling for in the lead-up to the Biodiversity Conference in China in a couple of months time. What it's asking for, of course, is for countries to be fully committed to protecting at least 30 per cent of land plus at least 30 per cent of their oceans from environmental devastation and destruction. Just as we saw this government, time after time, lie, mislead and be tricky over Australia's commitments to reaching the Paris targets by counting Kyoto carryover credits, we again see tricky accounting being used right here under this process. And for what purpose? Is it purely cynical? The government know that the people of Australia want our environment protected, so they say that they're going to do something, while at the very same time they are doing nothing—in fact, going backwards.
The reason I say this is that, while the Prime Minister has been standing up at the G7 saying that Australia commits to protecting our environment, right here in this parliament this week we had the government introducing and pushing through laws that would weaken our environmental protection to pave the way for easier approvals for new mines and big development. You don't have to take my word for it as to what is going on here. The Prime Minister himself declared that this bill, which amends Australia's environment laws, is precisely for the resources sector. It's for keeping the mining companies happy. The Prime Minister has said that himself. It has nothing to do with strengthening our environmental protection laws. It has nothing to do with helping halt the extinction crisis that not only Australia but the world faces.
When it comes to the issue of extinction, Australia, sadly, rates the worst in the world. Can you believe that? Isn't it just shocking that Australia has lost more native species than anywhere else in the world? We're a world leader in extinction, a shameful record and something that we need to start halting and turning around. That is why this coalition of countries is also asking signatories to commit to an extinction target, to halt the destruction of our wildlife and stop the disappearance of our native species. But, of course, the Prime Minister didn't sign up to that particular pledge. The Prime Minister has said one thing at the G7, but here in Canberra, at the very same time, his government is pushing through laws that do nothing to help the environment but do everything to make it easier for big mining corporations and big, greedy developers to keep destroying wildlife habitat and Australia's precious environment. They are saying one thing at the G7 and another thing here in the nation's capital. Australians are sick and tired of the game playing and trickery of this Prime Minister. Here today we've called it out, and the minister, when I asked the question, could not give a simple straight answer.
Question agreed to.