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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Wednesday, 1 October 2003
Dr David Kemp: Well Peter thank you very much for that introduction. A lot of good things come out of the West. Occasionally you have grand finalist and a premiership team. Not this year, I'm sorry about that. Of course I find everybody likes Carlton these days [laughs]. But the fact that you came across to see me on several occasions with such a really good product impressed me enormously and I want to congratulate Bernie Reigler and yourself for the initiative behind the Green Stamp Program. It has ah, it's a program that really sold itself because it was being sold by people who knew the industry, who were part of the industry and who could demonstrate success in one area of the country.
It seems so obvious as Peter said to me on several occasions that this could go national. We could actually do something worthwhile in the motoring industry on a national scale and that seemed to be to be pure common sense and we have worked hard to get this up. Now Mal Washer my parliamentary colleague here has been pushing really very hard on this because he is a great supporter on environmental responsibility, also for the Motor Industry and for his own state.
I was really very impressed by the amount of local support that obviously this program had and was articulated through Mal. I also acknowledged Judy Edwards ah, my Ministerial colleague here in Western Australia um who works closely with me on quite a number of issues and it's good to see you here today too Judy giving support to this. I wanted to say just how important I think this kind of program is. If I could put it in a bigger context and there is a much bigger context for this and perhaps it falls to me to really paint the bigger picture.
There is an interest in this country now, I believe, it's growing quite visibly in the sustainability of Australia in the longer term. We all realise that we inhabit a quite remarkable continent. We are the only nation in the world actually that occupies an entire continent. Some of this continent is quite badly degraded and I've just come from a tour along the Murray River and had a look at some of the big issues that arise there with water management.
I'm currently trying to take some action to lift the level of protection on the Great Barrier Reef. You in Perth are very conscious, I'm sure as Peter said, that you have a very important aquifer here that must remain unpolluted and between Perth and its environs and the rest of Australia, there is very large desert so personal responsibility for the environment I'm sure is a value which is very strongly held by people here in the West.
But it is a growing sense right around Australia that we are all ultimately responsible for the quality of the country that we live in and we do want to hand on a country which is actually environmentally in a healthier condition that the one we inherited. We want our children to enjoy this continent and we want them to enjoy clean rivers and clean air and clean seas and soils which are productive and not degraded by salinity, acidity and the other problems that can afflict soils.
The environment is not anti-industry indeed the opposite is the case. Now I think the Motor Trade Industry and other industries around Australia are all now recognising that actually we have to live with the environment and of we live with it sensibly, the industries can be more productive. We could probably double productivity in the Murray-Darling Basin if we could address these problems of soil degradation.
We could certainly improve the tourist industry on the Great Barrier Reef if we could make sure it doesn't keep going down hill and it was something boiling with life and biodiversity and was there to attract people from all around the world. Clean water underpins our communities. Dealing with salinity is critically important for maintaining our roads and our buildings as well as the productivity of the land. So we all have a responsibility in our industries to live with that environment and do what we can to improve it.
The great thing about the Eco-Efficiency Agreement concept is that it gives the message that actually there is a bottom line benefit to looking after the environment. Using less energy for more outputs, coping effectively with waste can and using less inputs to produce less waste can actually encourage the business to be more, not only more environmentally sensitive but produce more dollars in the bottom line at the end of the day. And give a very good message to customers as a bit of market positioning. Businesses that advertise their environmental sensitivity will find increasingly, they can draw people through the door on that basis. Businesses that advertise their environmental sensitivity will find increasingly they can draw people through the door on that basis. It is something customers are increasingly looking for. Now I don't want to exaggerate that.
There is a long way to go in customer education. A lot of people won't pay and extra cent for petrol just because it is a cleaner fuel than the one they are buying for a cent less. This is something that is very important in the ethanol debate and other debates. But people do want to see responsibility towards the environment and that goes right to the top of government. I just want to make the point this morning that putting this continent on a sustainable basis is I think one of the great goals this generation can formulate for itself.
We have in Canberra the Sustainable Environment Committee, which was established by the Prime Minister, he chairs it. He is there every meeting driving the agenda. Around that table in the Sustainable Environment Committee of the cabinet is the Minister for Industry, The Minister for Agriculture, the Minister for Transport, the Minister for Science, as appropriate the Foreign Minister and the Treasurer and other Ministers. Now that is evidence of how seriously the Australia Government takes this issue of making this continent sustainable.
Within my own portfolio there are now, with this Eco-Efficiency Agreement, 34 such agreements. 34 agreements with industries like the paper industry for example, which has got a tremendous record in improving its environmental performance, industries that are quite heavily polluting industries in many respects.
We have got the electricity industry um we know most of our greenhouse gases come from stationary industry power generators. The concrete industry has signed an eco-efficiency agreement. Plastics are involved in it because there are all industries that know that there is an environmental issue in dealing with their products.
The Motor Vehicle Industry provides enormous benefits to Australia, we couldn't do without it. The Motor Trades are a tremendously important part of Australian industry and they perform a very important function, but there is a cost to the benefits that we get and that cost in often an environmental cost and it need not be nearly as big a cost as we currently pay. And so I would particularly like to congratulate the MTA Western Australia and Bernie and Peter particularly for the leadership that they have shown in this because it hasn't been simply leadership for Perth or simply leadership for Western Australia, it is national leadership that Western Australia has shown in this regard through Bernie and Peter.
I am really delighted that we have been able to be the national beneficiaries of this local leadership. We know that it is the industries themselves that are going to make the difference. I mean it is not bureaucrats from the Department of Environment going out there, who are going to ultimately do the job. Sure, regulations have got to enforced and so forth but ultimately people have got to own the problem.
The only way you solve these problems in the end is if people own them and ah the industry associations can provide that leadership that will get ownership by the enterprises in industry. So it gives me very great pleasure today to register these 34 Eco-Efficiency agreements, to congratulate all those involved in it. To thank you for being here today and to officially launch that agreement. Thank you.