Page 3917 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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I also spoke about the importance of this right for me and my family. It is deeply personal. I think it is up to us here in the Assembly to do the best that we can to protect our environment for the people who live here and also to preserve the habitat that we have in the ACT. It is so amazing.

The importance of a healthy environment has actually grown since February when IĀ first moved this motion. Since then, we have seen more damage. We have had a disproportionate number of floods and other extreme weather events happening all around Australia and all around the world. But also, since February, we have had progress on this right around the world. In July 2022, the right to a healthy environment became universally recognised by the United Nations, and in August 2022 one of our leading environmental law firms in Australia, the Environmental Defenders Office, launched a report on the right to a healthy environment in Australia.

Sadly, Australia is one of only 37 of 193 UN member states that does not recognise the right to a healthy environment in our own national laws, despite the fact that we are at the forefront of the damage and we are suffering the kinds of extreme weather events that we will see more and more of in our changing climate. We have got a lot of work to do as a nation, and I am really happy to see the ACT taking a step forward and addressing it locally.

I am really glad to be in a progressive jurisdiction like this one. We were the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce our Human Rights Act. I am really happy to hear the commitment the government has stated today to introduce the right to a healthy environment into that act in this parliament and I am really looking forward to seeing the time line and the detail for this. This is excellent news.

Finally, I just want to paraphrase some of the words that Dr Caroline Hughes left us with when speaking in the introduction to the June consultation. I am paraphrasing; it is not a direct quote. She spoke about how First Nations people here and around the country are working together to ensure that we have a healthy country for everyone and that First Nations people do not look at the environment in isolation. They do not look at it as separate paths. She likened the environment to the heart. She said that our hearts in our bodies are vital and it is vital that we protect the heart, that the heart needs other organs to survive, that we need to protect the whole and create a healthy environment, and that that is the way that we will not only survive but thrive.

I say sorry to Dr Hughes because I am sure I have butchered her very, very beautiful expression. But we listened and we really liked that holistic way of looking at it. We are not separate from the environment; we are a part of it. We have a real duty to ourselves, to the First Nations people and to our children; but we also have a duty to the planet and its healthy environment. It also exists. There are a lot of other creatures we share this place with, and it is really important for our land, our ecosystems, animals, insects and people that we protect this environment, that we make sure we keep it healthy, that we get it healthier than it is right now so that it can sustain all of us.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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