Page 2121 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2022
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (11.08): I would like to thank Dr Paterson for bringing forward the petition about Bluetts Block and Piney Ridge today. It is an area that I, too, have visited on a number of occasions, along with passionate local birdwatchers and bushwalkers. It is a beautiful area and it is home to many different animal species—to many bird species. I appreciate the significance that this area has for members of the community, not just those nearby but those across Canberra, who go there to look at the wildlife. Places like Bluetts Block remind us of how lucky we are to live in Canberra and what living in the bush capital is all about.
As with any government decision, there are tensions, because we all know that there is a very real housing crisis in Canberra. The Canberra Liberals have been pushing for the government to release more land and provide real options for Canberrans hoping to buy a home here. However, urban development and preserving key environmental assets can and must work together in order for Canberra to remain the bush capital.
We all know the literature and the research about the importance of preserving bushland and green belts in our cities—not just the environmental benefits and the connectivity but the health and mental health of residents. We are extremely supportive of calls for an ecological assessment of this area before any decision relating to development is made.
I would like to point out that I feel there has been some hypocrisy in the deliberate politicisation of this issue by the ACT Greens. The ACT Greens campaigned aggressively on this issue during the 2020 election campaign, promising voters that they would deliver nature reserve status to Bluetts. I am not quite sure where that has ended up. One minute the Greens have promised the world in the election campaign and in the next there has been a very subdued response from them. As part of their grab for power, we have three Greens in cabinet, one of whom holds the environment portfolio and another who represents the electorate of Murrumbidgee, where Bluetts Block is located. We have had a very subdued reaction from them.
I would like to acknowledge Ms Clay’s work on this issue. But what are the Greens standing for here? They campaigned on it in the election; since then the ministers have gone very quiet on it. There have been some non-committing statements on their Facebook pages, despite being a part of holding the reins of power for Canberra. It is not as though there is some great divide with their Labor colleagues on the issue, either, because Labor seem to be very supportive of making Bluetts Block a nature reserve. Dr Paterson, a Labor backbencher, has tabled this petition today. Clearly, it is because despite those Greens promises, the Greens in government have once again failed to deliver. They should feel embarrassed about their efforts in this regard, despite all of the tools of government at their disposal and despite their election campaigning.
Perhaps the Greens should have a long, hard look at themselves, what they really stand for and their role in this government. They talk about delivering for government. What have they delivered for Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge so far? What have they done to protect this important area? What is it that they stand for?
Thank you, Dr Paterson, once again, for bringing this important petition to the Assembly.