Page 3354 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 20 September 2005

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Canberra Hospital. This government has a strong record of improving funding to mental health services. When we came to office, $82 per capita was the level of expenditure on mental health in our community; it is now more than $130 per capita. We have a strong record of improving funding to mental health services.

We have a strong commitment to planning for the future, not just in terms of acute care—although that is obviously the focus of today’s announcement—but also in continuing to provide greater support for people in the community who obviously need ongoing care and support, even though they may not be suffering in any way an acute episode of mental illness. That is why we have expanded services, for example with more outreach services in Gungahlin; why we have provided additional support to elements such as the crisis assessment and treatment team; and why we continue to support our workforce with scholarships for mental health nursing, the appointment of a new chief psychiatrist and so on.

The government is working through a comprehensive approach to improve mental health services in our community. Today’s announcement in relation to a new mental health precinct is just another step in that ongoing work.

Bushfires—pine replanting

DR FOSKEY: My question to the Minister for the Environment concerns the management of the lower Cotter catchment area. Given that the minister commissioned a scientific study into revegetation options for the fire ravaged lower Cotter catchment area and the consequent public understanding that water catchment values would be prioritised, is the minister aware that pines continue to be planted in the catchment area, including in drainage lines where disturbance and the fertiliser and poisoning regime have an adverse impact on water quality? Further, is he aware that the promising post-fire regeneration of local species is being bulldozed in order to replant pines despite the short and long-term impact on water quality?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. I think about 1000 hectares of pines have been planted or replanted in the lower Cotter catchment over the past couple of seasons. I do not know the exact number but I believe somewhere in the order of 1000 hectares of pine have been replanted in the lower Cotter. To the extent that the question posed was: “Are you aware that pines continue to be planted?” no I am not. I understand that the planting of all pine in the Cotter catchment for this year has ended and that there are no more pine plantings being undertaken at all in the Cotter catchment at this moment.

As we speak, I understand that all pines that were planned to be planted in the Cotter have been planted and that at this stage no planting of pines is being undertaken; nor is it envisaged that there will be any more pines planted in the Cotter until the detail of a scientific analysis that has been commissioned from the CSIRO is available. I am not sure if it is just a purely CSIRO study. It is a scientific study headed up by the CSIRO and I am not sure if the CSIRO has partners in that particular research task.

But to the extent that Dr Foskey asked if I was aware that pines continue to be planted, I have to say no, I am not. My advice is that pines are not at this stage being planted in the lower Cotter catchment.

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