Jenny Leong speaks on the greens commitment to protecting the environment

Over the past nearly eight years, every time that I have stood up in the Chamber to speak about the destruction of our forests, our koala habitats or our environment, the Liberals and The Nationals on the other side of the House have yelled out all sorts of offensive remarks, insinuating that I do not have a right to talk about those things because the electorate of Newtown does not have forests or koalas. I will be clear: The people of Newtown care deeply about our environment. We might not have beaches, but we love them and we care very deeply about the plastics that are polluting our oceans. We might not have native forests, but we do not want them logged. We are committed to ensuring that koalas and native animals are protected from extinction.

That is right: We may not have beaches and oceans or forests and national parks in our inner‑city electorate, but we care about their devastation and the impact that government decisions have in destroying them. People in our local community care deeply about what is happening across the State, across the country and across the world. Our community cares when it sees the mega environmental destruction of massive wildfires in California and flooding in Pakistan. While we have not had floods or fires in our communities, we care that regional and rural communities are suffering. We have felt the grief that has impacted our loved ones who live in those communities. Gas mines, coalmines, logging and land clearing are threatening our water, climate, environment and future. They are threatening our earth.

Our communities know that this climate destruction and devastation is driven by dodgy corporations and coal and gas executives who profit from the destruction of our planet and the extinction of our native animals. We also know that so much of this devastation is linked to colonisation and invasion. There is no environmental justice without racial justice. Our community sees the devastation and impact that it has on people and on country. It causes great anxiety and stress. It is a disgrace that the Labor Party and the Liberal Party take millions of dollars in donations from coal and gas billionaires and big corporations, while continuing to approve and enable climate bombs in the form of coalmines, gas mines and the fast-tracking of land clearing, which could push koalas to extinction. These actions fuel the climate crisis and threaten the safety of people, our health, our water, our ability to grow food and the air we breathe.

We can stop the downward spiral towards environmental destruction that is further fuelling the massive economic inequality and social insecurity in our communities. It is why our community is doing its bit to tackle the crisis head-on—globally, locally, individually and collectively. Many founding members of the School Strike 4 Climate movement went to school in the electorate of Newtown, demanding protection for our futures, for First Nations land and for our environment. They have inspired tens of thousands of others to take to the streets. Many people who live in the electorate of Newtown are active members of organisations like the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Landcare and Surf Life Saving NSW, as well as many other community groups, all of which contribute to making our communities and environment a cleaner, greener, safer, healthier and more sustainable place to live.

The people in the electorate of Newtown do their bit every single day by using keep cups and re-usable tote bags, switching energy providers, installing solar, recycling, eating ethically, as well as cycling and catching public transport. Our community is doing its part, but we also know that individual action is not enough. It will never be enough. Governments, corporations and billionaires that aid, abet and profit from the climate crisis are letting us down. We need a total overhaul of the structures and system if we are going to seriously tackle the climate and extinction crisis head-on. That means ending coal and gas, rapidly shifting to renewable energy and putting an end to the billions in tax subsidies and special treatment that goes to big coal, oil and gas corporations.

Wealthy coal corporations must pay the price and compensate communities for the climate crisis they have knowingly fuelled. We can, and must, end the destruction of our forests that our koalas, threatened species and wildlife live in and are dependent on. The Greens are the only party in this place that is serious about protecting the environment, our climate and our future. I thank the people of the electorate of Newtown for the honour of representing them and for their care of our planet and the people who live in it.

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