Great forest national park
Well, is it not interesting? The member for Melbourne proposed and made a big deal at the beginning of this matter of public importance (MPI) about her opportunity to speak for 15 minutes on the first Greens matter of public importance. She said it was the only time they would have the opportunity. She was so motivated by the issue of the great forest national park that she ran out of puff with 1 minute 50 seconds to go. Just like the member for Ferntree Gully, who could not make his 10 minutes either, the member for Melbourne was so passionate about the great forest national park, so full of anguish and desire for future children and generations to enjoy such a park, that she finished 1 minute 50 seconds before her time.
Did she mention any of the communities that are around this park? There was some sort of mention in the matter of public importance. It said something about the Yarra Ranges — that is a rather nice place that some of us might have visited from the inner city every now and again. They say, ‘I think I’ve heard of it. I think I’ve drunk some wine from there’. I mean, seriously!
There was no mention of the five local government areas that were impacted by Australia’s worst disaster — Black Saturday, not one mention of that. It reeked of politics, and the only mention of community was a slight mention of the jobs in Heyfield and the fact that they were not really important, that they were jobs of the past and those people could be thrown on the scrap heap. In paragraph 4 we do have a mention of jobs, but that was the only thing we heard, that maybe there are some jobs in tourism.
There was nothing about the five local government areas. It was not just the Yarra Ranges, member for Melbourne, it was the whole Goulburn region, it was the Shire of Mitchell, it was the Shire of Murrindindi, it was the Shire of Nillumbik and the City of Whittlesea that were impacted by this. It is those children and those people living in that area who need our care and concern, and who should be our first priority. There was no concern from the member for Melbourne or any on that side except around the time of the Black Saturday fires. That is the only time I have heard any of the Greens party members mention that.
And then when she talks about community she talks about the community of Heyfield and how their jobs are not important. And when she talked about what the community thinks, what the voters think, she immediately segued into her favourite topic of the moment, the Northcote by-election and the inner city, because that is all the Greens party is ever about.
Well, not this Green, not this member for Yan Yean Green, not the Green family — I had this name first. I will always put community and the future of my local community first. We will support their environment, we will support their education, we will support their health and wellbeing. We will not just play politics.
The voice she found was 1 minute 50 seconds short. The only time the Greens find their voice to criticise a government is when Labor is in government. Where were they during those four years? They had members in the other place; they did not have members in here. They were voting with the coalition as they cut regional communities’ jobs, as they cut funding to schools, as they cut budgets to Parks Victoria and as they cut health budgets.
But they say they care about the environment. Where were they when the environment was totally subsumed by agriculture and run by those environmental vandals, the National Party? Did we hear from the Greens? No, we only hear from the Greens when they are attacking a Labor government because that is all they are about. They are never about governing. They are never about actually taking responsibility and delivering an outcome. They say, ‘Let’s flick a switch. We’ll have a national park tomorrow’. How will they support those communities? Will they actually look at anything that would occur in that area? They say, ‘No, we’ll just fly a flag. We’ll have a banner. We’ll put something in the window. We’ll sing Kumbaya. We’ll sing Give Peace a Chance‘.
But what about the kids of the Goulburn region? Did we ever hear them speak up during those four years? What did those in the other place do? The Greens in the other chamber voted 70 to 80 per cent with the environmental vandals, the National Party, who should be their sworn enemies.
The Labor Party is the party who has created more hectares of national park than any other government, who legislated to protect wedges, who established in my community the Plenty Gorge Park, who banned fracking, who is committed to the Victorian renewable energy target and who is looking at green jobs, whereas this lot are only talking about the past. Renewable energy is what we are talking about. But what do this lot on the other side and in the other chamber do? Most of the time they are still voting with their friends in the coalition, the other side.
Those that think about voting for the Greens political party should actually have a look at their record in this Parliament. They vote with the environmental vandals more often than not. Did they stand up for those bushfire-affected communities during those four years of coalition government? Did they stand up when community transport was cut from the areas within the great forest national park? I heard not a word. Did they stand up for the cuts to secondary colleges? There were so many businesses as well as homes that were lost across those five municipalities. Did we hear the Greens? Did they go up to those communities and say, ‘How are you? Why has Peter Ryan, the Minister for Regional and Rural Development, closed the economic centre?’, the economic centre that had been set up for those people who had lost their businesses either in the township of Kinglake or in their homes and had lost their customers? Did the Greens go up there and talk to them? Did they talk to them about rebuilding their communities? Absolutely they did not.
And then the member for Melbourne has the temerity to make glib comments and talk about the reason why Leadbeater’s possum hollows have to be created when I know that in the Plenty River catchment there was only a very, very small stand of mountain ash trees left in the Sherwin Ranges and in the Plenty River headwaters. That was all that was left. I did not see any Greens party people up there worrying about that. And then they try and confect a nonsense that falls short of the 15 minutes allocated to the member for Melbourne and try to say that this artificial habitat is there because of logging. It is not. It is there because of the worst natural disaster that this country has ever seen.
If you are going to put forward a national park, you actually do it in a well thought out way. You take your community with you, like we have done, whether it was the Kinglake National Park when it was established, the Warrandyte State Park, the Plenty Gorge Park, the Cobboboonee or the Woowookarung, the former Canadian Regional Park. That is what you absolutely do. And when you are pro-environment, you actually stand up and you say, ‘How dare you, coalition government, cut funding to weed management. How dare you cut funds to our parks, to their visitor services and to environmental works. How dare you cut funds that assist in maintaining our waterways’.
But no, we never see that. They just sit quiet and doggo whenever the coalition is in government, and then they find their voices for only part of their speaking time. ‘Let’s not do the full allocation’. Even though she had been waiting four years, she said, to do this, she had prepared a 10-minute speech and then went, ‘Oh, goodness me, I’ve got to speak for 15’, and she spoke really slowly and did not quite make it. People should see the Greens for who they are; they are frauds.