Page 780 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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In the same release, Mrs Dunne, who is now calling for a halt to all action on the Cotter, said that it “seems that no Stanhope government announcement is complete without a review, feasibility study or similar device to avoid decision making”. Heaven forbid, that we should spend the whole of 2003 in a dedicated examination of all these issues! Through that process, there were more than 600 submissions from the public to the Shaping our territory inquiry into the use of the Cotter.

Gungahlin Drive extension

DR FOSKEY: My question is directed to Mr Stanhope as Minister for the Environment and relates to measures to identify and protect the small purple pea, Swainsona recta, to ensure its survival. The small purple pea, Swainsona recta, is an endangered species. An action plan to ensure, as far as is practicable, the identification, protection and survival of the species was prepared in 1997.

I have been advised by several sources that sightings of the small purple pea were made in the rural lease beside Caswell Drive from October to November 2003. There was concern that this new population could be jeopardised by works associated with the Gungahlin Drive extension or by grazing activity.

It was agreed that the action plan would be reviewed after three years; therefore, notionally, in 2000 or some time after. My question is: has the action plan been updated, particularly since the 2003 sightings of the small purple pea in the rural lease beside Caswell Drive? Could we be provided with the most recent copy, please?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. It is an important question and it is an issue which the government is very aware of and vary sensitive to. I have noticed the concern expressed by leading scientists in relation to the impact of the Gungahlin Drive extension on the purple pea in the south Aranda woodland.

Dr Foskey would be aware that in the recent election campaign my government promised to pursue the long-term protection of the south Aranda woodland. We undertook to investigate a range of measures that we might take in the shorter and longer term to ensure the long-term preservation and protection of the south Aranda woodland as a result of the broad range of ecological values there—from the snow gum and yellow box/red gum woodland to the existence of a very endangered species of pea.

One of the avenues which we might pursue and which we have considered is, of course, the incorporation of the woodland within the Canberra nature reserve system. There are some real implications around that for the government. The land is on long-term lease. We would have to compulsorily acquire it to achieve that end. There would be very significant costs attached to that option. At this stage, we are pursuing other options, including the use of directions by the Conservator of Flora and Fauna, to achieve the same outcomes as might be achieved by its incorporation, at very significant cost, into the nature reserve system.

We are also pursuing the matter with the leaseholder, who is very amenable to the protection of the natural estate that is part and parcel of his rural lease. I have to say that Environment ACT has a very good and productive working relationship with him. At

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