Page 3626 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 22 November 2022

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I am pleased to inform the Assembly that the ACT government has been collaborating with ACT for Bees in developing an urban planting calendar for the ACT. This calendar will provide information on strategic plantings to support bees and other beneficial insects and birds. The aim is that this will assist in providing a diverse range of foraging opportunities across the city and the wider landscape at different times of the year, because they need food throughout the year. All this work is crucial for our bees in the ACT.

As we face more and more threats to bee species across the country, it is right that we continue to look at how we can better support bees through tree planting, through using practical and important biosecurity measures and by identifying ways that the government can partner with community and the private sector to make sure that we grow the urban habitat for Canberra’s bees.

We do use some pesticides and herbicides in our government, and particularly in Transport Canberra and City Services. We are always interested in what the latest research and methods are to try and limit the use of these substances where possible, whilst also making sure that we maintain Canberra as is expected. There have been some concerns, which I have previously identified in the Assembly, around some of those chemicals. That is something that we continue to monitor, as well as continue to be advised by the OPVMA on. We are very interested in making sure that bees continue to be a contributor to the ACT and, hopefully, that we do not get some of the pest species of bees that are not native to the ACT and not endemic to Australia.

On a recent trip to New Zealand—not that recent; just before the pandemic—I was infatuated with the bumble bee, which we do not have in mainland Australia. I think Tasmania may have them there. It is a very fat bee and I do not understand how it flies. We do not have those here, and we hope that we do not have them here because they compete with native bees and other pollinators, and of course they do not produce honey. We do not want them to take away from the honeybee population playing that valuable role.

I am looking forward to working with my ministerial colleague Rebecca Vassarotti on how we can continue to support bees in the ACT across the ACT government services.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (3.28): I rise to speak in support of the motion that Ms Orr has brought to the Assembly and that has been moved by Dr Paterson on her behalf. I thank Ms Orr for bringing this motion to the Assembly for its consideration. It highlights the value of European bees as a pollinator and applauds the achievements of Hall residents in making it the first bee-friendly village in Australia.

The ACT Greens have long been the champions of bees, pollinators and insects, and we will be supporting the motion today because we agree on its importance. While all organisms in ecosystems are essential, the role played by insects is particularly vital. Often under-appreciated, insects are the lever pullers of the world, and bees work very hard indeed to deliver ecosystem services.

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