I rise to support the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill. From the outset I want to acknowledge the work of so many people in my community of Springwood who have been passionately spreading the word about the need to reinstate vegetation management laws in this state. People have been out letterboxing, hosting stalls, turning out to meetings and spreading the word online. I have been around politics a long time and I have been involved in campaigning for a while longer, but rarely have I seen people in any community, with such little prompting, throw themselves so heavily behind an important cause.
This is an issue that people in my neighbourhood care deeply about. I want to congratulate everyone who has been getting the message out there for turning their passion into action. There is no question what is driving that passion. It is a commitment to maintaining our forests, it is a commitment to saving the reef and it is a commitment to maintaining and growing the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on this state’s natural environment. The LNP’s repealing of Queensland tree-clearing laws was an act of environmental vandalism. The regime that we had in place, implemented by the previous Labor government, was nation leading. Queensland was a leader when it came to climate action. Now, thanks to the LNP, we are leading the nation on emissions from deforestation—emissions that will have a lasting impact on the reef for generations to come.
Let us be clear about the reckless and arrogant behaviour of the Newman government, which doubled Queensland’s annual tree-clearing rate. We are now seeing 300,000 hectares of vegetation cleared each and every year. This is vandalism—sheer vandalism.
Just the other day, I took my kids, Charlie and Scarlette, for a wander through Daisy Hill forest in my electorate of Springwood. We walked through the giant eucalyptus trees and we talked about how animals live and find food in the forest, about all the creatures, the big and the small, that make up this amazing ecosystem. We also talked about how the climate is changing and what this means for their future, what it means for the animals that live in Daisy Hill, what it means for their habitat, as my daughter pointed out, what it means for the beaches, what it means for characters like Nemo and Dory and their home, the Great Barrier Reef. We all decided it would be best to avoid these impacts.
Almost all of the work that we do in this place has a direct impact on people’s lives. Sometimes, such as tonight, the matters that we are called on to decide have a much more lasting significance. The LNP’s decision to strip away Labor’s land-clearing protections was an act of intergenerational warfare. It was a direct attack on the living standards of our children and of their children. Now we have an opportunity to make things right, to do things right by the generations to come.
Labor has a proud record when it comes to environmental protection, from the Whitlam government legislating the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and stopping Joh from drilling into the reef to the Goss government stopping logging on Fraser Island and nominating it for World Heritage status, right through to the Bligh Labor government making Queensland a leader on renewable energy with the highest uptake of rooftop solar in the world. Let’s contrast that with those opposite.
Last night we discovered that the opposition environment spokesman is not willing to accept that humans are causing climate change. We have an opposition leader who thinks that solar power is for latte sippers. Let’s not forget the member for Burleigh, who was worried that the newly deemed world surfing reserve on the Gold Coast—an important recognition of the Gold Coast environment and the jobs it supports—might affect economic development. How absolutely ridiculous! The conservatives in this state have become so reactionary that even the mere thought of conservation sends them into conniptions. It was not always this way. The Liberal Party in Queensland used to, at least on occasion, think about the future. All we have now is the National Party, and their same old environmental vandalism.
I will turn for a moment to the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is another ecosystem at risk due in large part to land clearing in this state. It is riparian vegetation that keeps sediment and pesticides on land and out of the reef. If that vegetation is destroyed, it is like pulling the stopper out of a bottle of poison; all the bad stuff is going to flow freely, straight into the ocean. The reef attracts 1.9 million visitors, injects $6 billion into our economy annually and supports 69,000 jobs. Each of these jobs is at risk because of the LNP’s reckless environmental vandalism. I have said it before in this place and I will say it many times again, conservation equals jobs. We made a promise at the last election to the people of Queensland that we would reinstate Labor’s nation-leading vegetation management and protection laws. This bill fulfils that promise and will return the valuable environmental protections that Queenslanders voted for in 2015. I commend the bill to the House.