Page 838 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2023

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They actually smell like coconut oil. The ants look after the butterfly eggs and are a food source for the larvae and then the caterpillars produce food for the ants. All things are interconnected.

If we want to save the butterfly, we must also save the ant and, if we want to save the coconut ant, we must protect its habitat of eucalypt and acacia woodland and open grasslands, including fallen wood where coconut ants might build their nests. This is how biodiversity works: species of plants and animals and insects are all interconnected. Lose one, and we could lose many more; but protect one and we could protect many others that are dependent on it.

It is so important that we continue to ensure that there is a future for the small ant-blue butterfly, and other native flora and fauna species, some of which can only be found here in the bush capital. I commend the work of my fellow Greens colleague, Minister for the Environment, Rebecca Vassarotti, in committing to protecting the trees, grasslands and waterways which our unique and diverse wildlife call home.

I have deeply appreciated the opportunity offered by the Conservation Council to participate in the Bush Buds Woodland Walk and learn more about the small ant-blue butterfly. I strongly encourage all of my colleagues here at the Assembly to join in on this effort.

I am also extremely grateful for and wish to recognise the ongoing work of conservation groups in protecting our biodiversity and habitat across the ACT—in particular, the Southern ACT Catchment Group, Landcare ACT and the many small neighbourhood groups getting the work done to look after our nature reserves and green strips, including Friends of Hughes Grassy Woodland, who look after red gum-yellow box habitat for gang-gangs, and the Friends of Hughes and Garran Woodland. I admire the passion, dedication and knowledge that they bring to their efforts. I am very much in support of this motion today.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (11.30), in reply: I would like to thank members of this chamber who have spoken in support of the motion. I think it really demonstrates the fact that supporting our wildlife and celebrating this beautiful place that we get to call home—the bush capital, Ngunnawal country—is something that is truly beyond politics, and I really thank people for their contributions.

I think that the Conservation Council, in particular, will be really pleased about the impacts of their Bush Bud program. We have all been able to learn about some of our special species that have been sponsored by members in this Assembly. Again, we really encourage people who have not already got in the program to get involved.

My Bush Bud is the beautiful and very enthusiastic Canberra earless dragon. It is a little creature that has captured my heart. While it used to be very common in the ACT, it is a species that we are absolutely fighting for its survival.

Getting involved in the program is really exciting because it does mean that you get a special bond to one of our creatures. It something that is really significant in terms of

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