Click To Return
To Main Page






Facts 'n Fun

Email Us

About Us

Meet the Hon. Greg Hunt MP

The Hon. Greg Hunt
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Heritage, and Federal Member for Flinders

Have you ever wondered who exactly makes decisions about our environment? Well, there are lots of people involved in this, particularly as we have a 'democratic government'. This means that ordinary people like our mums and dads can have a say as to who is in charge of our country. Not everyone gets their choice. But the person and political party who most people believe will do the best job is put in charge.

There are lots of people who advise on environmental issues but there are some politicians who have the job of making the big decisions. One of these people is a important politition called' the Hon. Ian Campbell. But looking after the enviroment is big business. So he has someone to help him do it. His name is 'the Hon. Greg Hunt.'

Mr Hunt is very interested in what kids have to say on the environment. Even though he is incredibly busy, he took the time to talk to Planet Patrol while he was on his way to the airport for an appointment.

He has one daughter, called Poppy and she is nearly two years old, but as Mr.Hunt told us...she's not the best sleeper! ''It is quite hard to leave her on business" he admits.

Mr. Hunt is a Parliamentry Secretary. But he is not a secretary who answers telephone calls, he gives Mr.Campbell and the Governer General important advice as well as having his own electorate to look after. He has to work closely with Mr.Campbell and sometimes makes speeches on his behalf. Apparently, Mr.Campbell is a very nice peson to work with.

Mr Hunt is also in the 'House of Representatives,' whereas Mr.Campbell is in the 'Senate.' Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are part of our Parliament. This is a very important place where polititians can share their thoughts with others in a very political way. Sounds very confusing doesn't it?

We wanted to know more about what our polititions actually do. So we sent some emails out to some of them and it was Mr Hunt who agreed to talk to us. This is brilliant as Mr Hunt seems to really want to help young people to have a say and he is actually interested in the environment.

One of the things we talked to Mr. Hunt about was the particular challenges that Australia faces. When we went around Europe we found that close to the big cities, there were lots and lots of small towns and villages which were surrounded by fields, parks and trees. In Australia our cities are just big sprawls. Mr Hunt agreed and explained that because people can choose where to live, they have chosen to live by the sea and fresh water. All our cities are on rivers and because of rainfall, we have a lot less fresh water than Europe. We at Planet Patrol think that the government should do more to create villages like we saw in Europe. They had more parks and trees and everyone knew each other. We think this is much better than just driving for hours past buildings never knowing which suburb you are in.

What do you think? Have you come from a country or visited somewhere that was set-up differently to Australia and was it better or worse?

Going around Europe we also noticed that the transport systems were a million times better than here in Australia. We live in the Hills District of Sydney which has NO transport. We only get a few buses and at the weekend we don't get any buses - this is really bad for kids as we have to rely on parents to use their cars. This uses up more and more fossil fuels...not good! Also, it costs a fortune for us to drive into the city because of all the tolls. We think that the government should plan more railways. Not only would this help the environment by reducing the fuel used, but it would reduce car accidents and make everyone arrive at work in a better mood.

Mr Hunt told us that public transport loses money and that some big cities like Singapore, Hong Kong and London subsidise public transport. He said that more people need to be encouraged to use public transport and that the Olympic Games emphasised just how important and useful public transport can be. We think that if more train stations were available then more people would want to catch them. In Europe, people would never think of travelling in a car if they could get there by bus or train. We caught the bus in Switzerland which was brilliant as they are fast, regular and very, very clean! Switzerland also produces the best chocolate in the world so basically, it's a fantastic country to visit.

We also asked Mr Hunt about what Australia was doing about alternative energy. He told us that Australia produces 550 million tonnes of CO2 (carbon dioxide which is a gas that affects global warming and pollution) per year. This is not very good! However, 11% of Australia's energy now comes from alternative energy; now this is good!

Mr Hunt says that Australia is working on three main things: 1. making fossil fuels more efficient - this means that we find ways to get more power out of the same amount of coal. 2. Using more alternative energy sources such as 'thermal energy'. 3. Conserving water - making the public aware of the need to not waste water.

We were very excited to learn that Mr. Hunt had the same idea as us when it came to big business's leaving their office lights and computers on all night. Have you noticed how the sky is still bright over a city in the night. This is because of all the office lights and advertising signs being left on all night. We think that this should be banned after midnight and that the business's should be fined unless they prove that they are using solar power or wind energy to fuel them. Mr Hunt agreed that it doesn't make sense to have an advertising sign on at 4am when hardly anyone is awake to see it. He recently gave a speech to Parliament on this issue.

What do you think could be done about this? If you send us your ideas and thoughts, we will send them on to Mr. John Howard (our Prime Minister) and we will tell him all about our ideas. This is called 'democracy' a lot of countries, you couldn't write to the P.M. without getting into a lot of trouble. We are very lucky to live in Australia where you can write to the P.M. although I wrote to him about whaling and no one wrote back!

Alastair asked Mr Hunt about what was being done to reduce the damage that agricultural fertilizers are doing to our waterways (fertilizers contain a chemicals like 'nitrogen' and 'phosphates' which make plants grow faster. This is fine on farms but these chemicals then drain into the rivers and lakes and make the water weeds grow so fast that they choke everything up. Some of the weeds are actually poisoness to fish and aqautic life).

Mr Hunt thought that this was an interesting question but pointed out that Blue-green algae (one of those poisoness water weeds) was now not as bad as 10 years ago. Mr Hunt felt that the effect on water weeds was an 'unintended by-product' of the fertilizers and that the people using it should be responsible for any problems caused by it. He said this is the law and told us about the case of Rylands v Fletcher in the 1870's where water espaped and someone was held liable for it (they had to pay for the damage it caused). However, we think that this would be very, very hard to prove when there are many farms all along the river. How would you know which farm had produced the increase in phosphates? It's very tricky isn't it!

Alastair has been monitoring the amount of noxious weeds (not from Australia, but plants from other countries) in our area such as bamboo, balloon vine and privet. Mr. Hunt told us there was a 'National Weed Initiative' and that there is a program of large scale eradication (aims at getting rid of large areas of weeds). The government has just announced that they will spend $75 million to get rid of weeds. This includes weeds in the waterways.

We wanted to know why Australia hasn't introduced the charge for each plastic bag you use like other countries like England and Ireland have. Mr. Hunt said that the government is currently looking at this issue. So we will find out about this and let you know what is decided.

Talking to Mr. Hunt was very interesting. We found out just how busy politicians and it was brilliant to find a politician like Mr Hunt who was willing to listen to kids.

We also had a look at his website. It's really very good and tells us about what he's doing in his own constituency and his plans to clean our coastline, make better public transport and so many other things.

You can find Mr. Hunt's website at:, or

Read the 'biography' section of Mr. Hunt's site. He is a very clever man who has done some incredibly interesting things. He was very good at debating - which is useful if you're going to study Law and go into politics as it's all about arguing.

Take a look at: and you might be able to interest your school in the Student Parliament.

We will do some more research on some of the things which Mr. Hunt mentioned like the city lights, the National Weed Iniative and Thermal energy and we'll let you know more about them. In the meantime, write to us with your thoughts and ideas on these issues. Maybe you've met a politician who has been helpful...or have you been disappointed. I'm still waiting for my response from Mr Howard, waiting, waiting, waiting...!

An ENORMOUS 'thank you' to the Hon. Mr. Greg Hunt for taking the time to talk to us.

Story by Imogen Wadlow