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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2781 ..

This is an area of quite significant importance in relation to maintaining our biodiversity. But, because of the incapacity of the minister to communicate in this area, there is no way that people interested in the area can offer their assistance, critique or support for the work that is being done, and there is substantial important work that needs to be done in relation to the large number of action plans for endangered species and endangered communities.

All of this work comes within the $75 million to $85 million which is spent in this area every year. It is important work in the area of our land management. It is important for weed control, for biodiversity maintenance, for eradication of feral animals and for maintaining the balance of the large species that can get out of population balance because we do not have large predators very much in an urban area. These are issues that need attention and need support from this government.

But the minister, as usual, is not interested; he is madly texting away rather than listening to the critique of what is happening in his department and, therefore, not supporting the highly professional people who work in his department and the highly professional people in agencies and institutions across the ACT who want to participate in protecting our biodiversity across our reserve lands, in particular, but also in our urban parks and places.

There is a lot of work to be done; but I think the minister is not capable of concentrating on what needs to be done there—and we are the poorer for it.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (7.49): In August last year the Chief Minister came out and said that Canberrans would be asked to make a gold coin donation to help the upgrade of walking trails in the Canberra nature park network. I think this was an attempt to raise money to help with the upkeep of our parks, particularly Namadgi and Tidbinbilla, as the TAMS budget blew out.

At the time, the Chief Minister acknowledged that the city was growing, that the TAMS budget was under pressure, that 54 per cent of the ACT falls into the national park and reserve systems and that the management of these comes “at a very, very significant cost”. The Chief Minister also said at the time that the collection of gold coins was part of a conversation with the Canberra community about what level of service they think is appropriate, how they think we should pay for it and the idea of engaging with the community about how precious national parks are and what their views on that were.

I want to reflect on these comments in discussing the TAMS budget for parks and conservation. Mrs Dunne has already spent some time on this and I think highlighted some of the problems. Firstly, let me say that we believe the Chief Minister when he says that management of parks and reserves costs money, although sometimes it is difficult to find out exactly how much money it really does cost.

I make this point because there is a very strong community of people out there who want to know exactly how we are resourcing the management of our parks. What are we spending our money on and where in the ACT is it being spent? And whether or

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