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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

22 April 2002

Address by Hon Dr Sharman Stone Commemorating Earth Day

Thank you Mr Ambassador, welcome fellow supporters of Earth Day.

In Australia we tend to have a series of important environment days, similar to Earth Day.

It is important that we come here and acknowledge that the US and Australia are working together a closer than ever before, but of course we have always had close links.

I mean this week we have Anzac Day which is probably the most celebrated day in all of Australia and that of course reminds us of our relationship with the US.

Interestingly enough we are here at the NASA building, and of course the NASA program in Australia at one stage supported 6 ground stations within the US space program.

There are just so many fronts that we need to work on and incorporate, just a small example being artificial photosynthesises with the ANU, and I work very closely with the Antarctic Division, and our senior scientists down there have spent 30 years researching what happens to an immune system when 'wintering over'.

Each year we have close collaboration in the Antarctic across a range of issues; protecting the continent against the threat of environmental spills, the break out of disease, etc.

The most important thing is that we operate almost like a single nation in Antarctica, the size of Australia or the size of the US, without the same worries about domestic policy and rivalries we often experience here.

We have a very similar past as we both set out to impose our environment on an indigenous culture and we had the Aborigines who often suffered hugely from that process.

We have to learn how to explore and how to look after the environment more respectfully and work with Indigenous communities to look after the environment also. In your case those issues have been around a lot longer or a lot earlier than Australia's.

We also share a problem in common to all peoples in our respective countries, that being access to water. We have in our continents highly variable climates. We understand the problem for the current century and the century beyond, how do we sustain our current quality of life while also protecting our small endangered species, our remnant vegetation or our coastlines.

We must achieve that in a way so that both the rich and the poor experience a better lifestyle.

So I think it is a very important thing that we celebrate today and we acknowledge the United States, one of the biggest nations and Australia one of the smallest nations, but with us willing to 'punch above our weight'. We know we can learn from you and perhaps that you can learn from us also.

So thank you for enjoying Earth Day with us today, and we thank you for being here and you showing your support for Earth Day and we look forward to another ceremony this time next year.

Thank you.

Commonwealth of Australia