Page 764 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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MRS DUNNE: Rob Tonkin knows a whole lot about it.

Mr Hargreaves: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not like the use of the term. Mrs Dunne has suggested that referring to Mr Terry Snow was misleading. I ask her to withdraw that.

Mr Smyth: No, she didn’t.

Mr Hargreaves: Check Hansard, Mr Smyth; you are suffering deafness. She said that that is misleading.

MR SPEAKER: I did not hear that particular reference but I did hear a reference to Mr Stanhope possibly misleading the Assembly. That can only be dealt with by way of a substantive motion. I would ask you to withdraw that, Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: I withdraw that. There are a whole lot of people who are supposed to have signed up to a mythical line in here that says, “Plant pines in the lower Cotter catchment”. If you read it, it tells you the main thing you have to do in the lower Cotter catchment. It says:

The land should be managed primarily with the objective of maximising water quality (particularly minimising turbidity).

This government has failed on that principal premise. It also says that priority should be given to revegetation of the riparian zone with native species—that is happening—and that suitable vegetation should be restored as soon as practicable across the balance of the catchment, taking into account a whole lot of things. One of those things is planting pines for a commercial purpose. The principal reason they want to plant pines for a commercial purpose is that, somewhere down the track, we might recoup the costs of replanting.

What we are doing is going after the dollar at the cost of everything else. No matter what we do in the lower Cotter catchment, because we let it burn down and because we did not do what we should have done on 8 January, it is going to be hideously expensive. It is going to cost us a lot of money, it is going to cost us a lot of time and effort, and then we have to make some choices. Do we spend that money with the prospect of a good environmental outcome or a bad environmental outcome, so that we can follow the dollar, if we like, and some time, about 2029—if you really believe these figures—we might get a return; but at what environmental cost?

Let us look at the options. We could plant pines, as the government has done. I have been fairly vocal for a long time—and I will quote from May 2004. The reasons why we might not plant pines—not being absolutely definitive—is because pines are highly inflammable; they do not regenerate after fire; pines create a monoculture which is not ideal for catchment areas. The only way to manage pines is to clear-fell them every 30 or 40 years, creating more erosion, more turbidity and more agricultural chemicals washed into the soil.

Mr Hargreaves: That is rubbish. You do it selectively.

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