SPEAKING ON A BILL | ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING COMMITTEE
Mr Melhem: I also rise to speak on this motion, and I will be supporting the referral to the Environment and Planning Committee. There is no question that we have got a problem. We can have a debate about how big the problem is, but we definitely cannot simply say that there is no problem, there is no climate change. If you believe that, then you have got rocks in your head. So certainly there is a problem. But I am proud to be part of the Andrews Labor government that came in in 2014. We are now leading the nation when it comes to tackling climate change and delivering real action to set Victoria on a path to achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
A number of members have referred to the Victorian State of the Environment 2018 Report, which was delivered not long ago. I am going to quote some comments from the commissioner, Dr Sparkes. The report is quite damning; there is no question about that. We have got some serious problems, and we need to do something. But the encouraging thing is that according to the report Victoria and the Victorian government are actually doing something. I will quote from Dr Sparkes’ foreword, under the heading ‘Beyond traditional methods’:
Each scientific assessment chapter in Part III of this report includes summaries of current Victorian Government settings, including policies. There has been good progress in the environmental frameworks that have been developed since 2014. However, the increased pace of change and impact of pressures on the environment mean that a business-as-usual approach to developing policies, programs and an ad hoc investment in monitoring, science and reporting is unlikely to meet our requirements for effective, adaptive management practices into the future.
I think that is very important. That is when we make sure that we continue to do more. Dr Sparkes also makes reference to the 17 United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs), which are referred to throughout the report. They are:
… demonstrating how we are actively aligning Victoria with international environmental reporting frameworks. This is the start of our journey to rewire and bring coherence to the system so that the SDGs frame environmental monitoring and reporting in Victoria, helping to drive—
the change. She continues:
This is the first known attempt in Australia to apply the SDG framework to an environmental reporting at a sub-national level.
So again, the Victorian government is leading the way. The Andrews Labor government has been leading the way since we came into office in 2014. A lot of investment has been put in place to make sure we achieve our targets and to make sure we maintain our biodiversity. A lot of animals are disappearing; that is true. We can debate how far people are exaggerating and whether or not the problem is real, but the fact is that we need to do something. The last thing we should be doing is turning this into a political debate, whether it has been raised by a political party or not. It is about doing something real about it.
So I am looking forward to that reference coming to the committee. The work done by the commissioner for environmental sustainability is a great starting point, and we should be guided by the work that has been done. The report will be a really good guide for the committee, and I am sure we will be basing our report on that because there is no point in rewriting history or starting from scratch. With those few words I will leave Dr Ratnam to sum up. I commend the motion to the house.