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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 May 2018) . . Page.. 1590 ..

to their crops. And it is only a matter of time before bees and other pollinators have reduced numbers in the ACT as well.

The New South Wales government has recently made some major changes to their pesticide regulation framework, partly out of recognition that the existing framework was negatively impacting the long-term viability of agricultural communities and our natural environment.

Canberra and the ACT government need to take real action on protecting our city’s biodiversity for the future. I am joining calls from other organisations to make Canberra a bee-friendly city and lead the way for Australian cities to move to a more sustainable living urban landscape.

Making Canberra a bee-friendly city will not only help to protect biodiversity, it will help foster the growing urban agricultural sector in Canberra, promote and sustain school kitchen gardens, community gardens, backyard veggie gardens and urban farms, all of which help support local food production and food security. Making Canberra more bee-friendly would also help our goal of increasing the urban canopy and reducing heat island effects since new suburbs and infill developments are being built with next to no or no habitat for pollinators.

This should include fostering ongoing dialogue with communities on the role bees and other pollinators have to play in their local environments and how actions at home or within their community organisations might impact these pollinator populations. It will also require major work on the regulation and use of pesticides, increased efforts on bush regeneration and increasing urban canopy and an environmentally aware approach to landscaping, parks management and city services.

As a more short-term issue and hopefully a solution, the ACT government should be actively reviewing the use of neonicotinoids in Canberra with a view to adopting harmonised national laws and pesticides and best practice framework for government use of pesticides, creating strict reporting guidelines on the use of all pesticides in the ACT by any entity, introducing labelling guidelines for plants, seeds and soils treated with pesticides harmful to pollinators, and introducing a quickly phased-in ban on the use of neonics.

The UK and the EU have both announced their intention to phase in a ban on the use of neonicotinoids after disturbing research on the disappearance of insects in wilderness areas in Europe. Their announcements cite concerns over soil fertility, poor nature regeneration and decreasing yields, all of which are possibly attributable to the widespread use of neonics. It actually is really scary. Wilderness areas in Europe have had a decrease of over 50 per cent in the amount of insects in them.

While the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Management Agency has stated they do not intend to take action against the widespread use of neonics in Australia, we know there is a problem. It is so clear that there is a problem that Bunnings, Mitre 10, Coles and Woolworths have all begun phasing the neonic products out because of the harm they are having on bee populations.

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