Page 2579 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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outcome was solely as a result of the insurance payment for the devastation of the 2001 fires. The same thing happened again the next year.

We have now a fairly depleted industry and the land that ACT Forests manages is very unstable and requires a lot of work to restore it to a state where we could do anything useful and productive on it in the future. The lower Cotter catchment, which has been discussed at length in this place on a number of occasions, is a real problem for ACT Forests. The many ad hoc decisions made by the government to replant pinus radiata without giving very much consideration to the environmental as well as the economic benefits for the community have been unfortunate.

The rumours around the community in relation to the urban services reconfigurations indicate that there may be some changes afoot for ACT Forests’ responsibility for land management. I hope that whatever happens, whatever Mr Hargreaves sees fit to do in relation to the restructuring of urban services, will take into account the problems in ACT Forests.

I have been critical in the past couple of years of the propensity of this government to build monuments. One of the first acts of ACT Forests after the fires was to go out and build a new headquarters, even before we had decided whether we would continue to have ACT Forests. I hope that that money has not been misspent and that, as a result of the reorganisation of urban services, we will not end up doing away with ACT Forests, because then we will have headquarters that probably should not have been built where and when they were and that will be headquarters for nothing in particular.

Mr Hargreaves needs to do a lot of work to bring ACT Forests up to scratch. This is not a criticism of the staff themselves, who have had four or five absolutely hideous years, but some hard decisions have to be made at the policy end, at the in-principle end, at the visionary end, about how we administer our land and then we need to spend some money and give some resources to people to manage land in an appropriate way.

As Mr Seselja, Mr Mulcahy and I have said on a number of occasions, the $14.2 million that is being frittered away on icon building, vanity projects like the international arboretum probably would be better spent by having organisations like ACT Forests, urban services and parks and conservation managing the land, especially the land devastated by fire, for the benefit of the whole community. I hope that Mr Hargreaves is applying his mind to how best to manage all that land, those many thousands of hectares of land, under the administration of ACT Forests not only economically but also for the benefit of the environment.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.29): Mr Speaker, I have already discussed under the budget line for the Chief Minister’s Department my thoughts on the government’s priorities, the lack of funding for the environment and work on the Cotter catchment.

Mr Quinlan: Do it again!

DR FOSKEY: Am I the only person who says things a couple of times, Mr Quinlan?

Mr Quinlan: No, I said, “Do it again.” They repeat themselves.

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