PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7687


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 20/07/1989

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 7687

JULY 1989
This morning's journey through three States, culminating in
this launch at Wentworth, symbolises two realities about our
environment. It shows in a graphic way that the degradation
of our environment is not simply a local problem, nor a
problem for one State or another, nor for the Commonwealth
alone. Rather, the damage being done to our environment is
a problem for all of us and not just governments but all
of us individually and together.
The second reality is that the solutions just as we have
witnessed with the land rehabilitation programs in this
region are to be found through co-operation at all levels
of government and by community groups who care for the land,
who want to repair our damaged environment.
That is why I am delighted with the broad cross-section of
institutions and groups represented here today Federal
Ministers, State Premiers and Ministers, local Members of
Parliament, local government representatives, the remarkable
alliance between the National Farmers' Federation and the
Australian Conservation Foundation, the Murray-Darling Basin
Commission, the churches, community groups but most
importantly in a sense, the schoolchildren, our future.
It is to the future, to our children, that the. statement I
am launching today is dedicated. Through the measures
announced in the statement and through the co-operation of
all Australians, we seek an ecologically sustainable future.
That simply means we have borrowed from our children part of
their natural heritage and the time has come to repay the
debt. Environmental problems today, more than ever, are global.
In just over 200 years since the Industrial Revolution,
human activity has significantly increased the earth's
temperature, threatening the onset of the greenhouse effect.
Huge areas of the world's tree cover have been destroyed and
we are obliterating thousands of living species. we have
polluted the world's oceans, seas and rivers, degraded the
earth's soils, damaged the fragile Arctic and Antarctic

We have even managed to punch a hole through the ozone
layer. It would have taken all our scientific ingenuity to
do that deliberately, but it has taken no effort at all to
pull off that spectacular accident.
Australia is one of the most fortunate countries, escaping
some of the world's greatest environmental traumas acid
rain, persistent eye-watering smog, the disasters at
Chernobyl and Bhopal, the blight caused by population
We have many magnificent environmental treasures the Great
Barrier Reef, the Queensland rainforests, the Tasmanian
forests, Kakadu National Park.
And we have many proven successes in protecting the
environment. The Franklin runs free. Our World Heritage sites are a
source of national pride. Greenhouse research is being
funded. We are, with industry, phasing out ozone-depleting
But we have our environmental problems, and many of them are
serious. With today's statement the Federal Government is
providing new impetus and new directions in tackling those
problems. And we're asking the community to join us in these efforts,
for it is only by working together that we will restore and
improve our environment.
I'm not going to outline all the initiatives we're launching
today. They are explained in detail in the statement. But
I will concentrate briefly on some of the key ones.
None of Australia's environmental problems is more serious
than the soil degradation in this region and over nearly
two-thirds of our continent's arable land.
Accordingly, we are declaring next year the Year of Landcare
it will be the first year in a Decade of Landcare that
will provide as never before a focus for protecting the most
fundamental ingredient both of our natural environment and
of our agricultural prosperity our soil.
Today I am committing $ 320 million to a package of measures
to apply over the Year and the Decade of Landcare.
And I express here my gratitude to Rick Farley of the NFF
and Phillip Toyne of the ACF. They're two organisations one
would probably not immediately imagine forming an alliance
but it is an indication of the importance of this issue, and
an inspiring demonstration of the way forward that they used
their imagination and commitment to develop proposals and
put them constructively to Government. Their work has been
an invaluable contribution to the creation of this new

To address the special problems in this region, the
Commonwealth will provide up to $ 18 million over the next
two years to the Murray-Darling Basin Commission so that it
can begin to implement the Natural Resources management
Strategy for the Basin. my colleague, Senator Cook, will
have more to say about this in a moment.
A key ingredient in the treatment of many soil degradation
problems is the growing of trees.
Trees will help slow the greenhouse effect; they provide
habitat for endangered species; they form magnificent
wilderness areas and complete forest ecosystems; they ease
the burden on our virgin native forests as a source of
commercial timber.
We need more trees.
I am pleased to say, therefore, that after this launch Hazel
who is patron of Greenin-g Australia will plant the first
of One Billion Trees to be planted over the coming decade.
This is an ambitious program aimed at re-greening at least
parts of Australia, at restoring some of the 50 per cent of
tree cover removed in 200 years of European settlement in
this ancient continent.
One Billion Trees is very much a community program and I'd
like you and schoolchildren throughout Australia, through
your teachers, to plant trees and most importantly, to look
after them to make sure they grow.
We must, too, save those important remnants of native
vegetation on our farming lands. To this end I am
announcing a Save the Bush remnant vegetation program. This
has been inspired by the pioneering work of South Australia
and I pay tribute to John Bannon for showing a lead which my
Government, and I hope, the other State Governments, will
pick up.
of course, Australia needs a healthy, viable forest
industry. That viability must increasingly be based on
plantation development, to ease the burden on our virgin
native forests. The Government's National Afforestation
Program will be applied to this task and our forest
strategy will be informed by the work of the newly
established Resource Assessment Commission.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Ministers will be arranging trials
on the use of recycled and unbleached paper in their
Departments. The Government is removing the 20 per cent
sales tax on a range of recycled paper products.
The roll call of Australian animals and plants that have
been wiped out in the last two hundred years is long at
least 18 species of mammals and 100 species of flowering
plants. Another 40 species of mammals are in danger of

extinction and 3,300 plants species are rare or endangered.
We must strive to save them and so the Government has
decided to allocate $ 2m for each of the first two years of a
year Endangered Species Program.
Although we're out in the bush today, the nation's
environmental concerns do not end at the urban fringe.
Pollution in our cities, preservation of our urban cultural
heritage, the environmental strains caused by often
haphazard coastal development all of these are the subject
of new Federal Government measures detailed in the
The Commonwealth also wants to advance with the States the
development of agreed national minimum environmental
standards, addressing matters affecting air, water and noise
quality. I've said the environment is a global problem, and I can
assure you Australia's concern for the environment doesn't
end at our shores.
We will be taking the lead in developing international
conventions on greenhouse gas emissions and on biological
Australia will do everything in its power to ensure
Antarctica remains free from mining.
We will be seeking a global ban on the barbarous practice of
driftnet fishing which indiscriminately kills dolphins,
seals and small whales.
And we will be urging faster international action on the
phasing out of CFCs.
Consistent with these international efforts, Australia will
be developing a national strategy on greenhouse emissions
and we are accelerating the phase-out of CFCs nearly all
CFC use will be phased out within five years. I have put
greenhouse issues on the agenda for the first meeting of my
Science Council.
To give Australia a stronger and a clearer voice on global
environmental issues such as Antarctica, and the greenhouse
and ozone problems and to have a strong, consistent
capacity to be represented in the increasing rounds of
international negotiations and range of forums that will
characterise our involvement in these issues the
Government has decided to appoint a special Ambassador for
the Environment. I am delighted to tell you that Sir Ninian
Stephen has agreed to be Australia's first Ambassador for
the Environment. I am sure everyone will agree that no-one
could better discharge this important role for Australia.

Ladies and gentlemen,
When the earth is spoiled, humanity and all living things
are diminished. We have taken too much from the earth and
given back too little. It's time to say enough is enough.
Today's announcements won't solve everything. But with the
right mix of political commitment and community support we
can ensure that our country is simply the best in the world.
This is our country, our future. I give my commitment to
you, kids, that my generation will hand on to you a better
country, a brighter future.

Transcript 7687