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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 August 2018) . . Page.. 3290 ..

annual frog census—might be curtailed or abandoned; and the impact it might have on other ongoing projects.

Frogwatch lost $80,000 in core funding in this year’s budget while receiving some grants for special projects. We were told that the organisation has been operating on about half of what it actually costs to run the program. We learnt that Frogwatch carries out a range of activities, including education for students in schools, but that its most critical and longest data collection activity is the annual frog census in the Canberra region. The census has been undertaken every year since 2002.

For those who do not know the important role frogs play in the environment, the Frogwatch coordinator, Anke Hoefer, described them as the canaries in the coalmine. They are indicators of healthy environments, especially healthy waterways. The program, managed by the Ginninderra Catchment Group, has won awards for its work, but it is at risk, or will likely be reduced in scope, if funding is not locked in. I note that the committee’s recommendation that the government continue to work with Frogwatch ACT to develop sustainable funding options was agreed to. I trust that a sustainable funding model can be determined, and I look forward to seeing some of the work that Frogwatch does in its census work and also its tadpole projects in schools.

During estimates we also learnt of the progress of the Mulligans Flat area and the funding being supplied to extend the rabbit-proof fencing to protect the eastern bettong, which has struggled to become re-established. As Assembly members would know, Mulligans Flat is the only ACT home to the endangered eastern bettong. Sadly, the bettong has suffered further losses recently, when Brian Bettong lost out by a whisker to Rhonda Rock Wallaby for the title of mammal emblem for the ACT. As one of a privileged few to have seen a bettong at Mulligans Flat on a twilight tour, I must say—nothing against Rhonda Rock Wallaby—that I will always have a special soft spot for Brian Bettong.

We also heard about the progress in establishing the visitor centre and the role this building will play in promoting this important area and making it more accessible and informative to locals and tourists alike.

Last year was the first year of adoption of the kangaroo management plan. From the smooth introduction and activities this year, it would seem that the cull was efficiently and professionally delivered. A record number of 3,252 kangaroos were culled in this year’s cull, about 1,000 more than last year. Given the seasonal conditions and the number of carcases on roads, some could argue that it was certainly not more than was required. If dry conditions in the area continue through summer, the woodland environments around Canberra will be under further stress.

On the subject of other unwanted animals in our national parks, we learnt that deer, wild dogs and pigs, as well as the ever-present rabbit, are also part of the ongoing challenges our rangers face. I was interested to hear the confident assurances that the recent changes to any brumby cull in New South Wales national parks would have no environmental impact in any ACT national parks area and that in fact in recent years there had been very few, if any, sightings on the ACT side of the border. I know that

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