Today I rise to speak on the Inquiry into Tackling Climate Change in Victorian Communities report, tabled in Parliament by the Environment and Planning Standing Committee. Unfortunately the member for South Barwon, who chaired the committee, has just left the chamber, but the terms of reference asked the committee to inquire into what urban, rural and regional communities in Victoria were doing to tackle climate change and how they could be supported by the government. The committee travelled to many regional areas, and I am pleased to say they also visited Shepparton and took evidence at the community centre in Mooroopna, where I was able to attend one of the days of the hearing and hear from many local community members who chose to give evidence to that important inquiry. And I can say that the evidence is, from that work from the regions, it is clear that there is action being taken in relation to climate change on every level.
Just a month ago schoolchildren, young schoolchildren, marched in the mall in Shepparton for climate change. On the students for climate change day they were out there marching around the main block of the town and having a meeting—very young kids having the opportunity to hold a microphone and give speeches about their concerns. You know, they point out to us that there is no planet B. So for them it is a really real issue, and they are acting within their schools and within our community.
Local government is also acting. It has been very interesting to see the number of local government organisations that have declared a climate emergency, and Greater Shepparton City Council has done that. They are taking real steps by having an urban forest strategy. They are moving to electric vehicles for their fleets. Moira shire, also in my electorate, is now one of 46 local councils to sign the Victorian Energy Collaboration, along with Greater Shepparton, and it is the largest ever emissions reduction project by local government in Australia. More than 100 per cent of those councils’ energy will come from renewables within a very short period of time, so they have pooled all their resources to achieve this sort of an outcome. We know that renewables projects are mushrooming right across the Goulburn Valley, with more than 60 projects for solar farms approved, proposed or under construction.
The state governments are doing much in relation to climate change, and every single state government in Australia has adopted the net zero emissions target for 2050, so even though the federal government does not see fit to do that, the states are doing it. Even the National Farmers Federation is on board for this. They have been very strong in saying that this is the way forward. So when the National Party say at a federal level they are talking about ‘our people’, I think they are talking about the mining industry, because they are not talking about farmers and people who live in regional communities. Farmers in our region should be worried about the fact that tariffs may be placed on their export products by the European Union and other countries as they move towards and commit to zero emissions by 2050, but we have a federal government that is not doing that. Local communities are very concerned about this, and I dare say that when the cabinet positions are announced today at a federal level in the National Party, if Victoria does not get a look in there, we have much to be afraid of, because the interests lie in northern New South Wales and in Queensland and they are not the interests of the broader Australian community, of regional communities or of rural communities. They had better wake up.