13 November 2023

Deadly heatwaves, drought, fire, flood and species extinction: these are just some of the impacts of climate change facing Australia right now. But, unlike the previous coalition government, we are acting. I would like to thank the member for Higgins for moving this motion. As I stand here today, our country stares down yet another bushfire season, with recent fires and floods causing devastation and loss of life and triggering nightmares of previous disasters. As someone who experienced the Ash Wednesday fires, I send my heartfelt condolences to all those impacted.

What we know is that, in the wake of these disasters, there is no time for procrastination—no time to sit on our hands. Climate change is real, and its impacts are felt every day, not just across our nation but across the globe. In May 2022, the Australian people sent a clear message, electing the Albanese government to urgently address climate change. We are acting on this mandate. We have increased the country's emissions reduction targets from 26 per cent to 43 per cent by 2030, quickly restoring our standing in the world. We've updated our nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement.

Now Australia is back at the table and acting on climate change, with our 2030 target now in line with countries like Canada and Japan. We've reformed the safeguard mechanism to help us deliver more than 200 million tonnes of emissions reduction by 2030, which is the equivalent of taking two-thirds of Australia's cars off the road. By 2030, with the upgrading of the grid, we aim to achieve 82 per cent clean, cheap renewable energy. But the fight against climate change is not just about policy change. It's about collective action. It is about each and every one of us making conscious choices in our daily lives to protect our precious natural world.

Over the last few weeks, I visited many projects in my own electorate of Corangamite, where landholders are taking a proactive stance to safeguard our region's unique ecosystems, thanks to federal government funded programs. Local landholders Peter Brew, Simon Koch and Cliff Rossack, among others, have partnered with the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and the Surf Coast Energy Group to deliver these much-needed programs. I saw firsthand the improvements made to the local environment, including through protecting the Victorian Volcanic Plains near Bannockburn, Spring Creek valley on the Surf Coast and the habitat for the critically endangered birds on the Bellarine Peninsula.

In Bannockburn, I saw the grasslands alive with colourful wildflowers, chocolate lilies, native orchids and nationally threatened clover. The property was also a fine example of a cultural burning program, supporting the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation to conduct cultural burns and other traditional land management practices on public and private land. Spring Creek valley and the protecting biodiversity in the Surf Coast hinterland project has delivered revegetation of farmland and community engagement at two sites along the much-loved stretch of land. The project has achieved revegetation of more than 600 native plants, 250 hours of weed control and the participation of more than 200 volunteers at three community planting days.

In Wallington, another project is being delivered to improve the chances of survival for the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot. It includes releasing captive-bred birds to support the wild population in the Bellarine Peninsula and undertaking invasive predator control and habitat improvement works. By investing in these projects, landholders are not only contributing to the protection of our unique ecosystem but also setting an inspiring example for responsible land management. Further opportunities to nurture our environment are on the table, with the minister for the environment's nature repair market bill currently before the Senate. Such policies and local projects show we can and will make a difference.

The Albanese government's commitment to the environment and to climate change action is not just a promise; it is a moral obligation. A cleaner, healthy environment is the foundation upon which we address climate change, and it's imperative we fulfil it for our planet and for future generations.