Page 1154 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 4 May 2022
I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the Assembly on such an auspicious upcoming occasion, with 20 May being World Bee Day. Bees are important. Symbolically, both native and European honeybees even reside in well-cared-for hives at our nation’s Parliament House. Around 14,000 native stingless bees live in two hives at Parliament House in award-winning recycled plastic hives that allow for easier honey harvesting. While we have loaned these bees for the winter to the kitchen garden of Sydney’s Government House, they will return to us in spring. Having native bees residing at these important locations is symbolic of the critical importance that native bees, as well as our productive honeybees, have for the health and wellbeing of this country.
Bees play a vital role in our nation’s food security. It is staggering to think that a third of the food that the world consumes is aided by bee pollination. Unfortunately, bee populations are under threat globally. This is due to several factors, such as the destruction and fragmentation of their natural habitat, chemical use in intensive farming practices, and exotic pests and diseases.
With Australia being home to approximately 2,000 species of native bee, bees are critical to preserving our country’s rich biodiversity. But this biodiversity is fragile. Some species of plant can only be pollinated by a certain species of bee. If that pollination does not happen, that plant species cannot reproduce and can become threatened or extinct.
With the benefits of looking after our bees being clear, it is also clear that the ACT needs to do what it can to create and sustain environments where these little workers can thrive and maintain both the natural and agricultural processes on which ecosystems and people depend. As the nation’s bush capital, we have more than double the number of trees compared to people, and more is being done to achieve our 30 per cent canopy target and our 30 per cent permeability target for the city.
The ACT is also making concerted efforts to reduce the use of bee-harming chemicals, with the parliamentary and governing agreement to ban neonicotinoids and to reduce the use of glyphosate and other pesticides that can decimate our bee-loved insect populations. For example, the ACT government has adopted integrated weed management practices that reduce chemical use and incorporate other techniques such as flame weeding, biological controls and manual weed removal. We are also providing recommendations on bee-friendly plant species for urban landscape projects as part of the ACT government’s municipal infrastructure standards to assist with maintaining and enhancing insect-friendly environments. This will contribute to creating pollination corridors across the urban environment.
Yet there is always more that we can do. A real opportunity is presenting itself with our development of the ACT’s capital food and fibre strategy. The community and a breadth of stakeholders recently provided feedback on a discussion paper for the strategy. They supported a range of objectives for the soon to be drafted strategy, including the opportunity for the ACT and broader region to transition to ecologically sustainable food and fibre production, to build drought and climate change resilience of the ACT’s farm sector, to increase the capacity to produce food and fibre locally, to