Page 2349 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 28 June 2005

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project to be undertaken into Canberra’s grassy woodlands, research that could have a far-reaching impact across Australia. Minister, can you explain to the Assembly how ACT government funding was the basis on which this research project was established?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question. It is an important question. It is a very important issue, and it goes to the government’s commitment to protecting our natural estate, a commitment by the government reflected particularly through the establishment just recently of the Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve adjacent to Mulligans Flat. The establishment of that particular reserve in the context of this research, the million dollars or more that will now be directed specifically to researching aspects of lowland grassland woodland and the red gum-yellow box estate that is Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo, is reflected in the fact that the decision to incorporate, within the nature reserve system, the Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve came at a cost potentially of some hundreds of millions of dollars worth of otherwise developable land.

We need to look at the decisions we make in relation to our commitment to the environment and in relation to the opportunity cost of decisions we take to reserve in perpetuity significant areas of woodland such as Mulligans and Goorooyarroo. That is the essential commitment that underscores the decision to now proceed with this quite vital research.

It is important to acknowledge the significant role of Environment ACT, particularly Dr David Shorthouse and those who lead the ACT’s wildlife research and monitoring unit, as essentially the catalyst for this very significant grant to the ACT’s wildlife research and monitoring unit and the Australian National University, in concert, to deliver this major piece of research over the next five years.

The ACT government’s commitment to this research was fundamental. It is essentially our commitment to nature reserves, the significant commitment that we have exhibited through declarations over the years as a government of both Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo and then the decision by my government to fund research to the tune of about $300,000 into issues affecting flora and fauna in this particular woodland and to focus specifically on Mulligans and Goorooyarroo, that enabled us to leverage this linkage grant from the ARC.

I think it is important to acknowledge the government’s commitment, particularly the very significant commitment of Environment ACT, its rangers and its scientific staff. The research will be jointly led by Professor David Lindenmayer and Dr David Shorthouse. I think they are a fantastic team. They will lead a very strong research team. There will be a number of PhD students employed through this particular process undertaking vital research into a range of areas around how to re-establish and support some of the vulnerable and endangered species, particularly of birds, that inhabit those particular areas.

It is a very exciting project. I am very pleased that we have been able to achieve this. I think we should give credit to our public officials, our public servants and to individuals who work within ACT Parks and, in this case specifically, for the direction and drive that was given to this project and this grant application by Dr David Shorthouse and his unit. I pay credit to Dr Cooper and to Dr Shorthouse for achieving what I think is a wonderful coup in working with the ANU to leverage off an ACT

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