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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1750 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

of land which is simply degraded grassland, paddocks. It does not have any significant environmental value. I am very happy to concede that point.

This is land which is also set aside for development, and this is land which the Labor Party does believe should be developed. It is the upper portion of Watson that we have a concern about. As you will see from the photographic map circulated by the minister, it contains a significant area of remnant grassy woodland.

This is the area that we believe should not be developed. The lower area can and should be developed. We have indicated that publicly on the record previously. But members should reflect on the real significance of the site. Yes, it is, in many respects, just a bunch of old trees. But, as is recognised by leading conservationists such as Phillip Toyne, who I mentioned earlier in the debate, and other experts in the field, it is more than just a bunch of old trees. It is a remnant of the most endangered ecological community in south-eastern Australia. That is the point members should bear in mind when voting in this debate. This is a remnant of the most endangered forest type in south-eastern Australia. There is less than 5 per cent of the original pre-European settlement coverage of this forest left. Ninety-five per cent of this forest type is gone forever.

The national agreed target on the amount of each forest type that should be protected is 15 per cent. We cannot meet the target in relation to this forest type, because there is only 5 per cent left. Let me just put one other fact in members' minds. Of the 5 per cent that is left, less than 0.3 per cent is protected in reserve. That is an abysmally low figure. It is incumbent upon us to recognise that forest types such as that located at north Watson are of significant value and deserve to be protected from development.

If the minister for the environment was serious about protecting the environment of this woodland and assuring that it continues to function as an ecological community, he would act to protect the entire site. But he is not doing that. He is instead saying, "We will protect five of the 15 hectares and allow housing on the rest." He will allow housing amongst large old trees that drop limbs. Does that make a lot of sense to members in this place? Mr Rugendyke, would you like to live next door to a 200-year-old tree that drops limbs suddenly without warning? You would not. Yet the minister is proposing that that is what should happen on the majority of the site.

The government's position is illogical. I urge members to recognise that the most appropriate step is to protect the entire site and not to go for the Clayton's option, the minister's amendment.

MS TUCKER (3.52): I am pleased that Mr Corbell has put up this motion today, as this area does contain a very significant area of yellow box/red gum grassy woodland. I was intending to put up an amendment, but Mr Smyth has effectively blocked that amendment by putting up an amendment of his own. So I am now circulating an amendment in my name which will amend Mr Smyth's amendment. The function of that amendment is to raise the question of moving this area not into urban open space but into hills, ridges and buffer areas with a public land nature reserve overlay.

Mr Rugendyke said he thought the area looked like a paddock. I think Mr Corbell has answered that. It is the most endangered ecological community in the region. It is important for us to understand that if we have 5 per cent of an ecological community left

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