Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2231 ..
East O'Malley-land auction
MS TUCKER(11.20): I move:
That this Assembly calls on the Government to:
(1) cancel the proposed auction in August of land in East O'Malley for residential development;
(2) defer any decision about the sale of any part of this land until:
(a) the Government has completed a review of Action Plan 10 for the protection of the declared endangered Yellow Box/Red Gum Grassy Woodland ecological community; and
(b) the Assembly has considered the outcome of this review.
Mr Speaker, east O'Malley is a wonderful piece of endangered yellow box/red gum grassy woodland. While many similar patches of woodland in the ACT have been bulldozed for farms or housing, this woodland's survival is probably due to the old quarry on Mugga Lane. When the NCDC developed O'Malley some 30 years ago it was decided not to develop land on the eastern edge of the new suburb because it was directly opposite the then working quarry on the other side of the valley. The land has, however, been zoned as residential for many years.
In the meantime, though, our understanding of ecology has expanded considerably, as has our impact on the environment. In 1997, yellow box/red gum grassy woodland was declared an endangered ecological community. Woodland was the characteristic vegetation covering 25 per cent of the Australian continent prior to European settlement. However, since then this woodland has been severely degraded because of clearing for farming activities. In south-east New South Wales there is only some 5 per cent of the original yellow box/red gum woodland left. The white box woodland had been practically wiped out.
Unfortunately, less than 1 per cent of the remaining woodland is protected across the region and in rural areas it is suffering from tree decline because of drought, fire, insect defoliation and limited opportunity for regeneration. Fortunately in the ACT there are some significant patches of remnant woodland, but there has been much fragmentation of the original woodland ecosystem because of clearing for farming and then urban development.
The action plan for grassy woodland states that only 25 per cent of good-quality remnant woodland remains in the ACT. The action plan identified all of the zoned residential area in east O'Malley as endangered woodland with about half of this land, the most easterly section that adjoins the Mount Mugga Mugga section of Canberra Nature Park, as very high conservation value. The rest of the land was identified as high conservation value.
The former Liberal government decided, however, to place only 40 per cent of this area into Canberra Nature Park and to allow residential development on the rest. The land was put on the 2001 land release program and a development control plan prepared last year for 122 dwellings. But, fortunately, the land got caught up in the public opposition to the Liberals' disastrous urban infill policy, so the sale did not proceed.