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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (20 October) . . Page.. 3370 ..

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, a huge number of applications go through the planning office and I can assure you that very few are run past me. There is a process in place by which these applications are approved when they are appropriate or rejected when they are not appropriate and to discuss them with the applicants when that is suitable. All I can do is seek an answer to the question. Unfortunately, we are not on line here. Perhaps we should be on line here in the Assembly so that I can access the PALM data base at the convenience of the member. I will get an answer to his question.

Protection of Endangered Species

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my question is to the popular Minister for Urban Services, Brendan Smyth. Minister, can you explain to the parliament why the ACT leads the nation in the protection of endangered species, and I am not referring to Mr Berry? What part do action plans for threatened species play in this process?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I thank the member for his question. It is a very appropriate and pertinent question, given the day. Today is, I think, an outstanding day for the environment in the ACT. This morning I was able to launch Aquafest, which coincides with National Water Week, and then at lunchtime I released the final 11 action plans and announced that the Government would put a further 100 hectares of yellow box and red gum grassy woodland into reserves.

The Government is committed to contributing to a national reserve system that is comprehensive, adequate and representative, and ensuring the protection of significant species in our region. I noticed that Mr Corbell, in his usual way, said at the end of my answer, "Oh, he doesn't care". The Government, using an appropriate process - this is something they do not like and Ms Tucker does not like when she does not get what she wants - has now determined that we will add to the already existing 53 per cent of the ACT that is held in reserve in the Namadgi National Park, the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, the Canberra Nature Park, and the Murrumbidgee and Molonglo River corridors. Mr Speaker, this is a government that acts on the environment; this is a government that leads the rest of Australia, all jurisdictions, in terms of protecting the most vulnerable and threatened parts of our environment.

Through the Flora and Fauna Committee, Mr Speaker, it has been recommended that some 24 species are at risk. Under the Act and across Australia, where you have a threatened species, you must come up with an action plan. Which is the only jurisdiction that has action plans now in place for all its threatened species? The ACT. This Government, Mr Speaker, this jurisdiction, is leading the way.

The addition of 100 hectares of high-quality yellow box and red gum grassy woodlands to the Canberra Nature Park which we have announced today again adds to our reserve system. How did this occur? It occurred after extensive surveys and in consultation with the Government's expert Flora and Fauna Committee under the leadership of the Conservator of Flora and Fauna, in conjunction with the community.

Mr Speaker, the history of the process is quite interesting. The history is that in 1995 we set aside three reserves in Gungahlin, the Mulanggari, Gungaderra and Crace Reserves. These cover some 500 hectares of native grassland and other habitat for the striped

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