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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4454 ..

Mr Berry: The next thing you will be telling us is that Fraser Island is named after Malcolm Fraser.

MR HUMPHRIES: I know that Mr Berry does not like this. I know that Mr Berry would rather the environment suffer for the sake of Telstra, but we on this side of the chamber happen to be very keen on these changes. I realise that Mr Berry's party would rather have sold 100 per cent of Telstra. I realise that he is disappointed about the fact that they have sold only a third of Telstra, but perhaps we can come back to that at another time.

Over the next five years the Commonwealth is going to provide funding for a range of new initiatives: $259m, over a quarter of a billion dollars, for Landcare; $318m for the national vegetation initiatives; $163m for the Murray-Darling 2001 initiative - - -

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, we are most interested in what is going on nationally, but really - - -

MR SPEAKER: Is this a point of order?

Mr Berry: Yes. Really, the Minister can respond only on issues which affect the ACT.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Mr Humphries is talking about the Murray-Darling Basin, which has an effect upon the ACT - very much so.

MR HUMPHRIES: I think it does, Mr Speaker. We know that Mr Berry's grasp of geography is not all that good. We know how he told us that Mururoa was nearer to Australia than China was, so we know that he is not very good on geography. For his benefit, the ACT is the only jurisdiction in Australia that lies wholly within the Murray-Darling Basin. We are the largest community in that basin. We have the most impact on that basin. The Murray-Darling 2001 initiative will be a very important project for the ACT and every citizen who lives here. Funding of that order to provide initiatives to rehabilitate that basin will be tremendously important to the ACT, as much as to anybody else. The funding generally is to rehabilitate degraded land, protect and improve water quality, protect biodiversity and provide sinks for greenhouse gases. Significantly, there will be an emphasis on on-ground works, partnership arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories, and regional-scale implementation and funding, in which of course the ACT is very important.

Officers from my department have already had discussions on these issues with their Commonwealth counterparts. Interestingly, the Conservation Council and Greening Australia have also been involved in these discussions, and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure the successful implementation of this initiative in the ACT. The ACT, of course, is very well placed to take advantage of these initiatives and to benefit perhaps more than most from the National Heritage Trust funding. We are well advanced with catchment and regional planning for natural resource management. We have also built up a very strong network of community Landcare groups that will be able to assist in implementing on-ground work such as tree planting, weed removal and remnant vegetation conservation.

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