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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1589 ..


MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (3.39): Thank you to the Assembly for giving me the opportunity to be here today to talk about bees. I have cared about bees since before it was cool. And while policymakers have bumble-beed around for years on biosecurity and making bee-friendly cities and ecosystems, the Greens and key advocacy groups like ACT for Bees have droned on and on about the need to better regulate pesticides, plant more native trees and create natural corridors because—or "bee course", and that can mean "of course" or "because"; bee puns are very versatile—the question on everybody's lips is, "Are bees all they are cracked up to bee? What is the buzz about bees?" I might leave it there for puns. I have not really seen enough—

Mr Parton: Good.

MS LE COUTEUR: Thank you, Mr Parton. I was hoping for a few more faces in agony. But, yes, to answer the question, bees are all they are cracked up to be. Bees and other pollinators like flies are crucial to the viability of our agricultural sector—in fact, our entire ecosystem. Bees' role in the natural order of our world is crucial and their importance as pollinators both for agriculture and for wild plants cannot be overestimated and cannot be simply quantified in monetary terms.

Bees are what is called a keystone species, ensuring the continued reproduction and survival not only of plants but of other organisms which depend on these plants for survival. Once a keystone species disappears, other species begin to disappear. Thus, as Albert Einstein said, "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then men would only have four years of life left." No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man!

Next week, Sunday, 20 May is the first World Bee Day and I do thank the Assembly very much for its perfect timing with this MPI. A number of local institutions have got behind World Bee Day. The Slovenian embassy in O'Malley will be hosting a traditional honey breakfast in the morning, followed by a bee-friendly lunch at Canberra Magic Kitchen in Hackett. There will be a garden party at the Swedish embassy in Yarralumla in the afternoon, and a night-time screening of the award-winning documentary More Than Honey at the Coombs Theatre at ANU at 5 pm, courtesy of the Swiss embassy. And if you want more information about these or any other World Bee Day events in Canberra, go to the ACT for Bees website, actforbees.org.au.

Unfortunately, Canberra is not all a land of milk and honey for bees. Research by ACT for Bees is showing that the ACT government is still using huge quantities of troubling pesticides and herbicides. Combining that with Canberra's continued expansion into previously open space, the ongoing removal of urban canopy cover and the reduction of urban garden spaces resulting from increased densification is making Canberra a hostile environment for bees and other pollinators.

While we have not seen the bee die-off here that has been seen in the US and Europe, farmers in the capital region have been reporting difficulties in attracting pollinators


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