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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3016 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

The Christmas bushfires will present some problems in the long term for ACT Forests because, although the trees are insured, they are insured at their average life value, not at their optimum market value. There will be some problems for ACT Forests down the road as a result of the devastating Christmas fires. I have to compliment ACT Forests on the way that they have approached the regeneration of the land. They have been diligent and on the ball, and have done a fabulous job in getting most, or almost all, of the replanting done within the time frames.

These very important issues go to the very heart of the reforms that were made by the previous government. The previous government, as I said before, put in a lot of effort and went through a lot of pain, inflicted by those opposite, to make those reforms. It is good to see that, having assumed government, the previous reforms that those opposite pilloried are now being embraced as the right way to go.

Now that ACT Forests have managed to turn themselves around, I expect to see an improvement in the things that Ms Tucker has talked about. I hope to see an improvement in weed control. For many years ACT Forests were criticised, and rightly criticised, as one of the worst-probably the worst-land manager in the ACT. We have to see an end to the blackberry infestations and the spread of pine wildlings across the territory. ACT Forests are now on a commercial footing and they can actively respond. They have the right profile of staff to address these issues.

I note Ms Tucker's point that we have an opportunity to change the mix of the plantation more in favour of natives. But really and truly, although Pinus radiata is not my favourite tree, we are talking about a tree farm and not a national park. A tree farm is designed to make a return to the territory and changing the mix to hardwoods would severely set us back in that respect. Across Australia, Pinus radiata plays a very important role in the building and construction industry and the paper industry. Although you may not particularly like this type of tree, it does form an important niche in the economic cycle.

I would like to compliment ACT Forests on their sterling effort in getting their land back into order after the Christmas bushfires. We know from estimates about the work they have done on the maintenance of their roads. The reconfigured roads will have a positive impact on erosion around ACT forests.

The same cannot be said for the National Capital Authority. The National Capital Authority have been very remiss in dealing with the land they control that was subject to fires at Christmas time. They have not made decisions about what to do, and their land, more than anyone else's, will have an impact on erosion. After months and months of dry weather, the land closest to Lake Burley Griffin is still left denuded and untended by the National Capital Authority. They are remiss; they are retrograde in what they have done. They need to address the environmental issues that they have on their plate, and they need to address them now. They need to rehabilitate that land before most of it is washed into Lake Burley Griffin and down to the Molonglo.

MS DUNDAS (11.35): ACT Forests has gone through a savage restructuring process and we have been led to believe that the organisation is more financially viable as a result. However, I do not think that the government has properly faced up to the longer term market forces surrounding the softwood timber industry.

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