Speech to the Parliamentary screening of 'Ningaloo Nyinggulu' with Tim Winton

Thank you, Tim, for sharing those beautiful videos.

And congratulations on the documentary.

Not many writers can say they’ve put their hands in the jaws of a whale shark.

And not many novelists can walk into Parliament House and offer such effective political advocacy.

I’m not suggesting there’s any relationship between those two experiences.

But if there is – only you can tell us.

Can I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.

And I extend that respect to the traditional owners of Ningaloo: the Yinikurtura people, the Thalanyji people, and the Baiyungu people.

Tim, it’s been an absolute treat having you in parliament today.

I say that as a reader, as a conservationist, but also as a fellow patriot.

You said something last month that really stuck with me.

You were promoting this series in the media, and you said:

‘I believe in patriotism, but patriotism doesn’t always mean waving a flag or firing a gun. Patriotism is about defending your home place’.

Which was a wonderful way of putting something I’ve always felt myself.

And I think most Australians share that feeling.

We feel an obligation to country, to our sense of home, and to the lives we imagine for our kids and grandkids.

And one thing I love about your footage from Ningaloo is how you can see that passion for country, jumping out of every frame.

Tim has written a lot of great characters over the years.

But your main protagonist has always been the Australian landscape.

Particularly that stretch of WA coast, which you’ve brought so magnificently alive in your stories.  

That’s another thing about Tim’s work.

There’s no clear borderline between his art and activism.

The campaign you supported for world heritage listing Ningaloo Reef was a fantastic success story.

The Ningaloo Coast always had outstanding universal value.

But it needed a team to come together, to organise the community, and to make the case for protection.

When you watch this documentary, you feel incredibly proud that Ningaloo is now part of our national estate.

And you feel particularly happy that we’re doing our bit to protect all those magical, otherworldly creatures.

I know there is an ongoing campaigns to expand protection in the area.

As Minister, I can’t comment on the specific case.

And we haven’t received any formal application for new heritage listing at this stage.

But I would say this:

If you think you have a case for enhanced protection here, you should absolutely take the next step and make a submission for national heritage listing.

Because the earlier you start, the earlier it will be considered.

This government is committed to ocean conservation. We’ve shown that.

Just two weeks ago, we tripled the size of the Macquarie Island Marine Park.

We added an area of highly protected ocean bigger than Germany.

Which is one of the biggest conservation decisions, anywhere on earth, at any point this year.

And I want to acknowledge the Australian Marine Conservation Society for all your support on that decision.

In the same week, we announced our plan to remove all the dangerous gillnets from the Great Barrier Reef.

And this week, we have Australian representatives at a special meeting in Chile, working to protect a million square kilometres of ocean off the coast of East Antarctica.

As a Minister for the Environment, it’s my mission protect more of what’s precious, restore more of what’s damaged, and manage nature better for our kids and grandkids.

And nowhere is that more important than our beautiful oceans and marine environments. 

So congratulations again, to everyone involved in this documentary series.

Tim called it ‘an act of prayer to creation’. 

It’s a prayer, it’s a love letter, it’s a beautiful tribute to a special place.

It deserves the widest possible audience.

Thank you.