Page 4084 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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That the report be noted.

I have tabled in the Assembly today the report of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment on the Tenth Annual Conference of Parliamentary Environment and Public Works Committees, which the standing committee hosted in Canberra. Held over the last three days of September, the conference theme was “Sustainability and bushfire recovery”. The previous year’s conference, held in Melbourne in mid-July 2004, had accepted an offer from the then chair of the Fifth Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning and Environment, Ms Roslyn Dundas, for the ACT to host the 2005 conference. It was noted that the ACT had experienced a devastating natural disaster with the bushfires of 2003 and that the conference could focus on the challenges and opportunities for change following disasters and on the public works and environmental issues involved in recovery. This theme was pursued in the 2005 conference.

The sustainability and bushfire recovery conference provided an opportunity for participants to learn of the numerous strategies for managing recovery, sustainability and future bushfire risk that have been adopted by several governments, as well as by ACT business and community organisations in recent years. Counterpart Australian state and territory parliamentary committees were represented at the conference. There is a list of delegates in the report.

Some of the keynote speakers at the conference included Mr Jon Stanhope, ACT Chief Minister and Minister for the Environment; Mr Stuart Ellis AM, chair of the national bushfire inquiry; Mr Sandy Hollway, chair of the Shaping our Territory working group; Mr Jim Gould, the CSIRO forestry and forest products organiser; and Mr John Mackay, CEO of ActewAGL. Some of the outstanding women presenting papers included Ms Lyn Breuer of South Australia; Dr Susan Nicholls, from the University of Canberra; and Ms Mary Porter from the ACT.

During the opening session on Wednesday 28 September in the Legislative Assembly chamber, delegates from around Australia were welcomed to Ngunnawal country by elder Louise Brown. Later, delegates enjoyed guided walks in the Australian National Botanic Gardens, which focused on the adaptation of Australian flora to fire. There was a formal welcome by the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Wayne Berry; and there was a performance by Wiradjuri Echo, a local Aboriginal dance group. Delegates also enjoyed the fine hospitality provided by Hudsons in the Gardens.

On Thursday 29 September the committee decided to shorten the planned conference field trip because of inclement weather, but not before delegates learnt about the numerous recovery initiatives on and around Mount Stromlo and visited Tidbinbilla nature reserve. On the lower slopes of Mount Stromlo, delegates toured the Mount Stromlo water treatment plant and the General Manager, Water, ActewAGL, Mr Asoka Wijeratne, highlighted the features of the 250 millilitres a day capacity of the $39.3 million water treatment plant built following the adverse impact of the 2003 bushfires and the drought on the catchment’s water supply.

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