STUDENTS SPEAK ON ENVIRONMENT

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:48): Thank you. Like many in this House, I get around to lots of activities that young people are engaged in in our communities, and they continually inspire me and, indeed, recharge my batteries when I go along and see some of these activities. Things like the Tournament of Minds, where hundreds of local students from schools all across the region participate in problem-solving activities, come to my mind. The Lego robotics competitions are a great example of science and technology providing an opportunity for young people to engage in some great activities. In particular in the last week, we have had NAIDOC celebrations, with many young people involved in those activities. They're very inspiring, and there are so many wonderful young people in our communities.

They also make me very conscious of our responsibility.

The member for Lilley gave a great first speech the other day about how we carry the legacy of the decisions we make in this place for the next generation. In that frame, on 10 July I had a meeting scheduled with four wonderful students from Woonona East Public School. Three of them were able to attend the meeting—Maya, Hayley and Caitlyn. Sophie had also worked with them but unfortunately was ill on the day and couldn't come along. I asked them to summarise the issues that they raised with me in a little speech for me to deliver to the parliament. This is what they have written:

Our climate issues are getting out of control! Our beautiful world is darkening as we speak.

I'm sure you have all heard about turtles having plastic straws up their nose. How birds get stuck in plastic fruit nets and how marine creatures get struck in fishing equipment.

This is a wake-up call not only for me but you as well. This is why I demand a change to not only our country but our world. We have done our research, listening to the scientists, who say that we are less than twelve years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. It is proven that we have only 125 months until everything will be irreversible.

We are campaigning to help the Cunningham area, such as making Wollongong plastic free. But just getting rid of plastic will only be a small baby step. We need even larger steps happening NOW around all of Australia. To slow climate change down, we need to reduce our emissions by at least 15% every year to stay below the 2 degree celsius warming target. It is proven that people below the age of 30 in today's world will be affected. This is NOT good enough. It NEEDS to change NOW.

The students spoke to me extensively about the activities they have undertaken in their own school on plastic reduction and recycling. They believe there is hope and they want us to hear their message. I'm very pleased to have been able to read part of that to the chamber today and to also acknowledge the students of Woonona High School, who have a great program of recycling and reuse happening as well.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.