Senate debates

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Matters of Urgency

Global Biodiversity Framework

5:51 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to speak in favour of the motion we have before us. The Australian government has taken a big step to agree, alongside other nations, to halt extinction right around the world, to protect our environment and to look after our oceans. At the end of last year, at the Montreal biodiversity framework COP15 meeting, Australia participated, in goodwill, alongside all the other nations. Australia signed up to these agreements. We had diplomats there. People spent time debating proposals and clauses line after line after line. The meticulous detail and effort that was put into these agreements was extraordinary—and I'd like to say thank you to all those public servants who put in so much effort. But none of this will mean dot until we start actually protecting the environment we have back here in Australia.

You can't say one thing in Montreal and come home and do another thing here in Australia. If we really are genuinely serious about halting the crisis that faces biodiversity globally and here in Australia, we have to stop destroying our forests, we have to stop destroying our critical habitat and we have to start protecting those very precious places that make our country one of the most beautiful places on earth.

It is madness that we live in a country in 2023 that allows the destruction of our ancient native forests. It's not just madness; it's criminal that it is subsidised by the taxes of Australian taxpayers. It is heartbreaking to see these ancient forests destroyed simply because, year after year after year, election after election after election, no government has been willing to stand up and say: 'No. Our forests need to be protected. Our ancient forests need to be protected.' When we're facing this huge crisis of global warming and biodiversity, we actually need to protect the little that we have left.

The commitments that Australia signed up to at COP15, the world's largest global biodiversity pact to protect nature, were that we would protect 30 per cent of land and 30 per cent of ocean and that we would make sure there are no more extinctions past 2030. Frankly, I think we should be able to say there should be no more extinctions of species from today. We have already lost too many of our native animals. We've already lost too many of our native species here in Australia. We should be doing everything we can to protect them. It is just shameful that we are facing a situation where our iconic koala is about to become extinct because we continue to destroy their homes. The Tassie devil, the Leadbeater's possum and the Australian sea lion in my home state of South Australia—these animals need protection. You can only stop their extinction if you stop destroying their homes.

It costs money to destroy their homes. Australian taxpayers are forking out money to allow logging to continue in our native forests. It is shameful, it is economically reckless and it is environmentally criminal. It would save Australian taxpayers money if we banned native forest logging today—it would save them money. While the government talks about environmental reforms and changes to environmental laws down the track—'They're coming soon'—there is one key thing missing, and that is a ban on native forest logging in this country, and that is shameful.


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