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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1138 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Ms Tucker seems to have a fixation on tourist facilities, yet totally ignores the good work that is being done out there, for instance, with the breeding program for the brush-tailed wallabies. The work that is being done out there by the rangers is now achieving great results in saving an endangered species, and it is not without the dedication and the hard work of the rangers and the support of the Government that this occurs.

Yes, we are building a new visitors centre. Visitors centres provide facilities for tourists; that is true. It will have a retail facility; that is true. It does have a cafeteria facility; that is true. But it also has a primary education function to ensure that people not only enjoy their visit to Tidbinbilla but also come away understanding the bush better.

There were other comments made. Without taking up the debate on the position of the conservator, the process in terms of the development application for the visitors centre is quite clear. In different areas of environment, one area proposed it and one area assessed it. The process is quite clear. It has gone through PALM. I do not believe that this is an example of a conflict of interest. Indeed, the conservator also has a right to explain and to help educate the population who visit Tidbinbilla about the important work that goes on there and how the bush works. This can all be accommodated in the current position.

Other comments were made about ferals. My understanding is that we have done very well with our feral program, particularly in combating pigs that were coming in. We now have a pattern. They now come in from New South Wales. We have done tremendously good work with the pig population and other populations, including rabbits and foxes. We work. We keep an eye on them all the time, and I am not aware that there is a problem with ferals. There will always be some ferals. Total eradication is very difficult, but we are aware of the impact that they have and we will continue to ensure that we combat them as appropriately as we can.

Mr Speaker, Tidbinbilla is a wonderful resource. We should not get caught up in the use of the words "tourist" or "tourism". Tourism has its part to play in the understanding of the bush and the environment. What Tidbinbilla will become will be a world-class example of how you can manage and at the same time allow people to come and enjoy the bush. This is recognised, I believe, in the fact that we recently received another grant that will allow the new visitors centre to be solar powered. So, again, its impact on the environment will be lessened and yet again it will allow it to become a wonderful example of what can be done and what should be done.

Mr Corbell also made similar comments. I believe that the Government has answered these comments. It is important that the all-up management ensure that the functions that Tidbinbilla is there for are achieved. The Government's management plan for Tidbinbilla will achieve that.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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