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Minister Kean - 30th of May 2019

30 May 2019

Mr PETER SIDGREAVES (Camden) (14:54): My question is directed to the Minister for Energy and Environment. How is the New South Wales Government delivering on its plan for the environment?

Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Minister for Energy and Environment) (14:54): What a great question from a great new member of this House. He is the best member for Camden we have ever had. I know it is a low bar, but can I say that the member for Camden's environmental credentials are well known. He is known around the MacArthur region as "green peace". It is great to get a question from him on the environment. I know that he and everyone who cares about our environment is excited about what the New South Wales Government is doing to protect our planet. What better place to start than Return and Earn?

Return and Earn is a great scheme that is reducing litter right across New South Wales. This scheme has meant that we have reduced litter volume by 33 per cent. We have received almost two billion bottles—not just from the Speaker's Garden—as a result of Return and Earn. The scheme will have a huge impact on our environment. It has also been a great win for community groups, for charities and for school groups, who earn much-needed money for community activities.

Another great thing the New South Wales Government is doing for the environment is saving our species. We have the $100 million Saving our Species Contestable Grants Program. No, Sussex Street cannot access that fund. The saving our species fund is doing important work by saving endangered and threatened species across New South Wales. A great example of that is the Bellinger River snapping turtle, one of the rarest turtles on the planet. After a freak virus wiped out nearly 85 per cent of the population, thanks to the saving our species program and in conjunction with Taronga Zoo's re-breeding program, we were able to reintroduce the species to the wild. We are making a huge difference to species like the Bellinger River snapping turtle.

What is exciting is not just what we have done but what we are going to do. As the Minister for Energy and Environment, I am determined to ensure that we tackle the issue of climate change and we reduce our carbon emissions. One of ways we will do that—

[An Opposition member interjected.]

Mr MATT KEAN: I note the interjection of the member for Cessnock, who is a knuckle dragger who denies the existence of climate change. One of the ways we will reduce our carbon emissions is by introducing regional renewable energy zones to drive investment into the regions. Introducing the zones is about creating jobs and at the same time bringing more supply into the system, which will drive down prices and reduce carbon emissions. It is an exciting time for the environment. Another thing I want to do—

Ms Kate Washington: Ask the koalas how they are feeling.

Mr MATT KEAN: I am glad the member for Port Stephens asked that. Another thing I want to do is to increase the footprint of our iconic national park network. We will start that straightaway by delivering our election commitment—

Ms Kate Washington: Are you going to land clear the rest or sell off the rest?

Mr MATT KEAN: —by delivering the Tugalong Station National Park, in the Bowral region. I know the member for Goulburn is very excited about this development. We will increase the footprint of our national parks, enhance our natural environment and provide important protections for our koala habitat. This is very important work.

Ms Kate Washington: You're just selling off their habitat.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Port Stephens to order for the second time.

Mr MATT KEAN: These are important initiatives. We want to tackle climate change decisively and responsibly. We want to clean up litter right across New South Wales. We will continue to roll out the successful Return and Earn scheme. In addition to that, we have our saving the species program. We will look after species like the Bellinger River snapping turtle. I know the member for Cronulla was instrumental in delivering this great program. We will be saving not just the snapping turtle but also bandicoots, burrowing bettongs and other endangered species. We will make sure that their survival continues into the future.

The SPEAKER: I call the member for Newcastle to order for the first time.

Mr MATT KEAN: These are important initiatives and, as I said, in addition we have our iconic national parks that do so much to enhance the amenity of communities right across New South Wales. I am determined to increase the footprint of and protect these national parks.

Mr John Barilaro: Hundreds of beautiful brumbies.

Mr MATT KEAN: While I am on the topic of national parks, I note the interjection of the member for Monaro, who cares deeply about the Kosciuszko National Park. I look forward to working with him to make sure we improve the visitor experience. [Extension of time]

We want not only to enhance the footprint of our national parks but to improve the quality of our national parks. That is why we will take on feral animals and we will invest to make sure our national parks have the infrastructure so that people can have a great time in them. I will say that while the state of the natural environment in New South Wales is good, the state of the environment inside the Labor Party has never been worse. What we are seeing is the most toxic waste dump of a leadership contest in the history of the once-great Labor Party. I should get the Environmental Protection Agency onto the Labor Party.

Ms Kate Washington: Point of order: My point of order is taken under Standing Order 129, relevance. The Minister ought to be talking about the importance of the environment, the topic of the question. He should be talking about the state of the Mambo Wetlands, in Port Stephens—

The SPEAKER: The Minister can continue.

Mr MATT KEAN: We are not talking about stalking horses at the moment. What we are talking about is the contest between the member for Kogarah and the member for Strathfield and the environment inside the Labor Party. We have the member for Kogarah, the electoral Messiah, Mr 1.8 per cent. He is making safe seats marginal. 

Mr Paul Lynch: Point of order—

The SPEAKER: Stop the clock please.

Mr MATT KEAN: Is it any wonder the member for Liverpool and the member for Swansea are backing the member for Strathfield?

Mr Paul Lynch: Do you want to sit down, you prat?

The SPEAKER: I ask the member for Liverpool to withdraw that comment before I take his point of order.

Mr PAUL LYNCH: But he is a prat.

The SPEAKER: The member for Liverpool will resume his seat.

Mr MATT KEAN: Then we have the member for Strathfield touring the parties. She is so committed to Labor values, she tried to join the Liberal Party.

The SPEAKER: Stop the clock please.

Mr Ryan Park: Point of order: My point of order is taken under Standing Order 76. The Minister knows very well that if he wants to attack members of this place, he should do so by way of a substantive motion and then we will start attacking those opposite. If the Minister wants to bring it on, bring it on.

The SPEAKER: Order! To the member for Keira's point of order, I believe that he was referring to Standing Order 73 rather than Standing Order 76. My response is that the member for Keira should please get his standing order right. I note that general attacks on members of the Labor Party are acceptable, as are general attacks on members of the Liberal Party. When an attack becomes unduly personal and targeted at an individual then Standing Order 73 becomes relevant. I regard the Minister's comments as being general in nature. The Minister may continue.

Ms Jenny Aitchison: To the point of order: Mr Speaker, yesterday you asked the member for Strathfield to resume her seat when those opposite made a personal explanation about one of the allegations that the Minister has raised. Given that the member for Strathfield was not given the opportunity—

The SPEAKER: What is the member's point of order?

Ms Jenny Aitchison: It is under Standing Order 73. Given that you did not allow the member the opportunity to defend herself against these allegations, I think you should stop the Minister from making them now.

Mr MATT KEAN: To the point of order—

The SPEAKER: If the Minister is speaking to the point of order I will hear from him and then I will clarify Standing Order 62, which is the relevant standing order under which the ruling was made in relation to the member for Strathfield.

Mr MATT KEAN: Of course this is about the environment because we know that under the leadership of the member for Kogarah even the safe-seat MPs are threatened species.

The SPEAKER: Order! Members will come to order. To clarify for the benefit of the House, Standing Order 73—not Standing Order 76, which was referred to by the Leader of the House—asks that members respect the following:

Imputations of improper motives and personal reflections on Members of either House are disorderly other than by substantive motion. 

Standing Order 62, which was the request from the member for Strathfield, is about personal explanations. It states:

A Member may, when there is no question before the Chair and with the leave of the Speaker, explain a matter of a personal nature. A personal explanation shall not be debated and leave may be withdrawn by the Speaker at any time. 

Previous rulings, including that of Speaker Torbay, have made it very clear that personal explanations need to be brief and factual. I spoke with the member for Strathfield before I allowed her to give a personal explanation and I reminded her, when she attempted to do so, to be brief and factual. I went into more detail in terms of that discussion before the member gave it. I make it very clear that the basis on which I asked the member for Strathfield to desist—and we spoke about it afterwards—is quite different. I clarify that for the benefit of the House in light of the comments that have been made. I will now allow the Minister to conclude his answer. He will be heard in total silence.

Mr MATT KEAN: Thank you for an excellent ruling, Mr Speaker. Let us call it for what it is: This leadership contest is a contest between a union hater—

Mr David Harris: Point of order—

The SPEAKER: I am not taking points of order. The member for Wyong will resume his seat.

Mr MATT KEAN: —and a Liberal sympathiser. That is what it is.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Clerk will stop the clock. 

Mr MATT KEAN: Is it any wonder the member for Maroubra thought he could keep his job?

Mr David Harris: Point of order: I refer to Standing Order 74. I refer to your earlier ruling. The Minister is clearly inciting members on this side of the Chamber to react and then they are put on calls to order. On the first day of the new Parliament you said you would not allow that to happen. We have been behaving pretty well, which those opposite have confirmed. Opposition members would appreciate your protection.

The SPEAKER: Thank you. The Minister will complete his answer.

Mr MATT KEAN: The member for Wyong may not like it, but the reality is this is a battle royale between a union hater and a Liberal sympathiser. That is how low the Labor Party's stocks have fallen. We on this side of the Chamber will tackle climate change and those opposite need a change in the climate.

Mr Paul Lynch: Point of order: Standing Order 59, tedious repetition.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister has concluded his answer.