Page 1662 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 2 June 2021

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about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander neighbours to act whenever an opportunity arises. This may include calling out blatant racism or gently correcting false stereotypes. It may require no longer tolerating the kinds of statistics we have grown accustomed to hearing about in Canberra. It will certainly involve being better people. At its core, that is what reconciliation calls on us to be.

World Environment Day

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (5.51): Last month, like many families, we celebrated Mother’s Day. I enjoyed a bit of spoiling and wished my own mum was still around so I could spoil her too. I had a bit of a rebellious thought that wouldn’t it be great if we could celebrate mothers every day, not just on one day, because where would we be without them?

World Environment Day surely invites the same rebellion. The environment is not something that is worthy of a bit of tokenism once a year. It is literally our life, our home. We are part of it. It is good for us. There is more and more research confirming all the things that we probably already knew in our gut; getting out and walking in the park, going for an ocean swim or just sitting on a bench at the Lyneham wetlands benefits our mental health.

Like our mums, the environment deserves our love, attention and appreciation every day. This Saturday, 5 June, is World Environment Day. So let us do a really good job of spoiling it on its special day and let us promise ourselves to spend more quality time with it and not give it so much grief for the rest of the year. This World Environment Day, we can commit to appreciating everything it does for us; all the ecosystem services it provides us that we often take for granted. We can do a better job of tidying up after ourselves rather than leaving it in a mess. And we can listen when it nags us about our behaviour through warning signs like bushfires, floods and melting ice. We can also reflect on what we can learn from those who have cared for it most, particularly First Nations people who have cared for our country for thousands of years.

I have probably laboured the Mother’s Day analogy enough at this point, but I did want to speak briefly to two specific environmental protections we have undertaken recently here in the ACT. Last Thursday, Mr Gentleman and I launched a new breeding facility for the endangered grassland earless dragons at Tidbinbilla, and we are really appreciative of the Melbourne Zoo for providing the facility with six dragons.

As I said at the launch, we know that Australia is facing an extinction crisis. We need action at every level, from strong national environment protection laws and clear national plans for threatened species to concerted local action. The ACT government understands the urgency of this work and we are taking proactive steps to conserve habitat and protect our threatened species, such as the eastern bettong and the grassland earless dragon.

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