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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3239 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

reason why the previous government worked so hard to ensure that the ACT had a seat at the table of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission.

Something I said in my maiden speech was that, as a sort of backroom person, one of the things I was most proud of was getting us a seat at the table. I talked about the importance of Canberra in this on a number of occasions at the Shed a Tier conference on the Murray-Darling Basin. Only on Monday evening, when I was talking to a Canberra Times journalist about the Murray-Darling initiatives, I made the point about the importance of Canberra's role in the basin because of the fact that we are the largest city situated inside the basin.

Unfortunately, the Canberra Times did not end up publishing the whole story, which goes to Mr Hargreaves' point about the media not picking up these important environmental issues. It is a shame that the fault will stay with Mr Hargreaves, who did not bother to pick it up. It is a shame, especially when you see how much work is going on after the bushfires, that he does not pay tribute to the hundreds of hours of volunteer work done in the name of Landcare by ordinary people across the ACT.

I used to be a Landcare volunteer. I am very remiss now because I do not find the time to get out on a Sunday morning to do the work that I used to do. It is a matter of some regret that we are supposedly the leaders in the community but cannot find the time to do what I know my next-door neighbour does on a regular basis. It is not just planting trees; I really have to set that right. It is lots of hard yakka. What the people in our own electorate do for the most part is clean up the mess that is left behind. It is the weeding; it is the taking out of the thistles; it is the dealing with the African love grass and the Chilean needle grass.

There has to be cooperation between government agencies to make Landcare happen, but government does not have the resources to do what land carers do. It would cost millions and millions of dollars, which governments across the country do not have. It is not just planting trees; it is the huge amount of salinity work. When I was an adviser to the Minister for Environment, I spent an awe-inspiring couple of days visiting salinity projects along the Murray-Darling Basin.

But all of that work will come to nothing unless the people who make the policy get the policy right. The hundreds of thousands of hours of hundreds of people across the country, in the 14 years or so that Landcare has been operating, will come to nought unless we get our water policy and our salinity policy right and unless the governments of the Murray Darling Basin come to the table as one, make some really hard decisions, spend some money and forgo a few things. Unless we do this, all the hundreds and thousands of hours of work done by hundreds of people across the south-east region of New South Wales and across Queensland, Victoria and South Australia will come to nothing.

When we are looking at the national Landcare awards, we should be paying tribute to people like the Cooleman Ridge people, who have weeded and taken out thistles for years and years; the Friends of Aranda Bushland; my own Landcare group, the Ginninderra Catchment Group, who were the first in the ACT to put pressure on to have the willows taken out along the creeks. That was done essentially by contractors-but with the support of the Landcare groups all the time.

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