Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2740 ..
MS HORODNY (continuing):
Mr Speaker, it is also time that governments took seriously another global environmental problem, the greenhouse effect. Like depletion of ozone, the greenhouse effect will impact at a local level. Banning CFCs, which are also a powerful greenhouse gas, is a positive step; but unfortunately their replacement - HCFCs - is also a greenhouse gas, and there is little substantial action being taken in other areas, such as transport and energy use, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We cannot afford to be complacent. As we speak, Environment Ministers from 150 countries are meeting in Vienna to deal with the issue of ozone. Perhaps the major issue for them will be how to assist developing countries gain access to technology which does not require ozone depleting substances. While we clearly have the resources in Australia to make the necessary changes, this is not always so in developing countries. It is important that we keep a global perspective and that we recognise our duty to lead by example, because we have the resources to do this.
Urgent action is obviously necessary to deal with the environmental problems that face us, not just fiddling around the edges. The Greens welcome the legislation before us today, but urgent action is needed to challenge the institutions we have as well. As local, national and global citizens, we need to challenge the economic systems and institutions which say that destroying our atmosphere is necessary for economic growth, and that avoiding substances which damage the environment imposes a cost on our society. What about the costs to our society in dealing with the explosion in skin cancers? This is why the Greens are here - because enough people in our society believe that there are fundamental flaws in our economic system and are looking for alternative visions to that of economic growth as it is currently narrowly defined.
MR BERRY (3.26): The issue of ozone protection is something that I think Federal governments - the Hawke Labor Government and the Keating Government - and various Environment Ministers have dealt with in a particularly remarkable way. I think their response to the Montreal Protocol in relation to this matter has been welcomed by environmentalists across this country. Those of us within the Labor Party have applauded it as well. It was also something which was responded to positively by the former Follett Labor Government here in the ACT. But that is not the only action that has been taken.
I recall that some years ago the issue of fire extinguishing agents, which are now well known as ozone depleting substances, was held in a great deal of suspicion by fire authorities because of some of the unknown effects of the gases when they were used on fires. One particular fire commissioner of some years ago would not recommend their installation because he was suspicious about them. Later on they became well recognised as ozone depleting substances. One of the first actions taken here in the ACT was taken by the union which I was well and truly involved in some years ago, the then Federal Fire-fighters Union, now called the United Firefighters Union. It was that union that took industrial action to remove those chemicals as a fire extinguishing agent.