Page 2968 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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I also love watching our school children learning to have the confidence necessary to perform in front of an audience. I wish to express my thanks to the Charnwood-Dunlop school and all the ACT schools that participated in Wakakirri and the dedicated teachers for all they do to help families raise well-rounded, capable children. I look forward to next year’s Wakakirri.

Environment—climate change

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (5.50): I rise today to talk on a topic that is near and dear to my heart, both as a life-long environmental campaigner and because today my granddaughter Bella joins me here in the Assembly. Bella once told me that her favourite place in the world is the reef at the Maldives. Both of us want to see that reef live.

Whether it is here in Australia’s Ningaloo, Kimberley or the Great Barrier Reef, or elsewhere in the world such as the Gulf of Mexico, the North Pacific or the Maldives where my granddaughter did her first reef dive, human-induced climate change is killing our reefs. We all know that. We have seen its effects: the bleaching, the drop in water quality, the rise in sea levels. I have seen it in the Great Barrier Reef. But we also know it is not too late. We can still save our reef and we can save all reefs.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is unique in its diversity and complexity and its natural ecosystem. It is home to more than 1,500 different species of fish, 400 species of coral, 4,000 species of mollusc and hundreds of birds and other sea life. Most of this is endemic to the reef and not found elsewhere in the world. As the world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef has been recognised for its unique value. It has been listed as a World Heritage site since 1981, with the reef meeting all four of the World Heritage Committee’s criteria for natural sites with outstanding universal value.

There are strong connections between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the reef, with over 70 recognised traditional owner groups having historical connections with the Great Barrier Reef. Across the length of the Great Barrier Reef, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history is found in lore, customs, music and art that have been inspired by the interactions and connections with the unique ecosystems supported by the Great Barrier Reef.

Unfortunately, rather than seeing our federal government act with urgency to protect and preserve our reef, we are seeing the government lead us into a climate disaster. Adani’s Carmichael coalmine, the expansion of the Abbott Point export terminal and the shipping of coal through the middle of the Great Barrier Reef will all put it further at risk.

I do not need to reiterate to this audience how the ACT is doing its part to stop climate change but I thought I would take this opportunity to talk to the Assembly briefly about some community activity all around the world, especially in developing island nations, that is raising awareness of climate change and the catastrophic effects on our oceans and reefs. Back in 2009 the President of the Maldives held their cabinet

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