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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2359 ..



I am also delighted that money has been allocated to a feasibility study for a Belconnen cultural centre, as it is a proposal I have publicly supported and worked on with members of the Belconnen community. I hope that the minister will proceed promptly with this feasibility study and that we will see the people of Belconnen having the space to express the many great forms of art and culture that they have.


(9.10): Where do I start? I will start at the beginning and work my way through.

Mr Pratt

: Did I hear a groan?


: Members will be groaning by the end of it. There are so many issues in Urban Services which, as Mr Cornwell has rightly said, go to the heart of making this city what it is and, in many cases, there have been many failures by this government.

The bushfire initiatives are commendable. They address a whole lot of important issues. I hate to sound like a cracked record, but I am going to harp on it: these are not initiatives. This is money that this government had to spend and they are making a virtue out of necessity by saying, "Look how generous hearted we are."For the most part, this money is going to come back to them in terms of insurance or disaster relief money and we are making great play of how big hearted we are, but these are things that we have to do because of the adversity of the situation in which we found ourselves.

But there are some good initiatives here. I am particularly pleased that money has been put aside for weed suppression, mainly in areas directly managed by the ACT government, such as Canberra Nature Park, Namadgi and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. But there also has to be considerable money going to assist rural lessees with weed suppression because, especially in the spring, if we have any rain at all the weeds will really rear their ugly heads. I hope that the extra $250,000 in this year's budget will be enough. If it isn't, I would expect the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Urban Services to be coming back in here to tell us that it isn't and asking for more money, because this is a really vital issue that we have to deal with.

A whole lot of the issues that have come about as a result of the bushfires show us that we need to take a more careful approach to our environment and that sometimes we have to be cruel to be kind. I note that there will be $500,000 this year and a lesser amount-$250,000, I think-in the outyears for extra bushfire fuel management issues. It is sad that we have come to a realisation of the importance of these issues only after the horse has bolted.

There are many land managers and many land users in the ACT who are now regretting that we did not have a more active bushfire fuel management program before the event and were not looking at the possible extinction of species like the corroboree frog, the possible permanent degradation of the sphagnum bogs and areas around our valuable catchment and areas of Namadgi National Park which may never, in our lifetime or in our children's lifetime, be the same. These are great losses which, wise after the event I might be accused of being, could have been mitigated if we had had a much better bushfire fuel management program than we had.

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