Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 10 February 2022) . . Page.. 267 ..
do the work to reduce the impacts of climate change and take care of our environment right now.
Recognising the right to a healthy environment requires that we change how we think about our relationship with the world around us and take a less transactional approach to our environment. I was thinking about this a lot last week. I went for a walk on my home country, and it was a really good, long walk. I got to about 10 kilometres out of Jerilderie and then I thought I had better turn around and go home before it got dark. But while I was out there I saw flocks of cranes, I saw wedge-tailed eagles and I saw the last of the summer wildflowers, and it was a time to refocus on what matters to me, with no mobile phone access, in a place where space and time work very differently to how they do in the city. Country needs to be remembered, listened to and understood so that it can be supported and protected. Without this, we cannot remember or understand who we are and what we are here for.
We are part of our environment, and our environment is part of us. We do not own it, but we are more than just custodians of it for future generations. The right to a healthy environment recognises the relationship between people and planet and reinforces our responsibilities to caring for country. Ms Clay is absolutely right: this is not just one more right. The right to healthy environment does underpin everything else. So I support this motion.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (3.27): I rise to speak on Ms Clay’s motion today and thank her for bringing forth this important issue. As Ms Clay describes in her motion, having access to a healthy environment has immense benefits. Research has shown that spending time in nature is linked to an increase in happiness, fewer symptoms of depression in adulthood, a reduction in symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in children, and a reduction in stress and feelings of anger and fatigue.
We are blessed to have so much nature here in our territory, in easy reach of most Canberrans. As you know, Mr Assistant Speaker, we are the bush capital. We have an abundance of natural environments available to us and our families, whether it is our local park or pond, on bushwalks or hikes, or in our beautiful national parks and reserves such as, in my own electorate of Brindabella, Namadgi National Park, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and lots of other beautiful hills and mountains like Mount Taylor, Wanniassa Hills, Urambi Hills and Tuggeranong Hill. There are so many of them that we can enjoy.
Canberrans understand and appreciate the need for a healthy environment. My experience as a local member has shown me that Canberrans will fight for their natural environment if they feel that it is being threatened. Whether it is a neighbourhood reserve facing potential development or the real threat of climate change, Canberrans care. They care very deeply, with or without the inclusion of a right to a healthy environment in the Human Rights Act.
It is important that we have access, and seeking to include the right to a healthy environment in the Human Rights Act is a worthwhile option for us to pursue. In my portfolio as the shadow minister for the environment, I am really looking forward to