Page 3373 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022

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In June this year, I was pleased to participate in a health leadership roundtable on climate action, with representatives from across Australia’s governments, the World Health Organisation, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, and more. It reminded me that only together, nationally and internationally, sharing lessons, innovations, and expertise, will we ensure that we minimise the impact that climate change has on our health systems and on our community’s health and wellbeing.

Key to this will be the COP26 Health Programme, which will be taken forward in the form of an Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate Health, ATACH. The ATACH is a broad initiative to support national and sub-national governments to make a set of commitments on healthcare resilience and decarbonisation. The ACT government and other jurisdictions have been invited to join the Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health. We will continue to work with other jurisdictions and the Australian government to understand how membership of the Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health could help us move towards our shared goal of boosting sustainability in the healthcare sector. My amendment commits the government to expediting these considerations.

I just want to make a brief reflection on that conversation. One of the things that really leapt out at me was the advantages that larger health systems have in some ways in being able to do policy work in these areas—things like looking at the carbon impact of different medications and making decisions for an entire health system. The presentation from the National Health Service in the United Kingdom really highlighted that. That informed some of the conversation that I subsequently had with Mark Butler, the new commonwealth health minister.

My amendments to Mr Davis’s motion reflect the significant work and energy that the new federal Albanese Labor government has brought to the fight against climate change. Importantly, my dealings with my federal counterpart Minister Butler, on climate change and health, have not only been extremely encouraging, and diametrically opposite to the previous federal government, but have also been carried out with great urgency.

At the first face-to-face health ministers meeting with the new federal health minister, I took the opportunity to raise the ACT government’s desire for national leadership, national action and coordination by the commonwealth in tackling the health impacts of climate change, and I reflected on the conversations at the leadership roundtable. Minister Butler advised all health ministers at the meeting that this was a key priority for the Albanese government.

Minister Butler has publicly confirmed that this work has commenced. ACT Health Directorate officials, I am pleased to say, are also involved in this work. This is a key example of how Labor in government federally can benefit us here in this place, particularly compared with the former climate-denying Liberal-Nationals government, which the members opposite supported, even when they did not agree with them. That is something I am sure all Canberrans will not forget in two years.

The amendments I move today reflect the fact that the ACT is well positioned to drive the national discussion and to ensure that we can continue to lead the country on climate action. These challenges, I note, were not and are not ACT-specific. Indeed,

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