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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3784 ..

high-quality and sustainable design to make sure that we got the best out of our buildings and our city. We started the building upgrade of Mac house and other government departments. We started methane mining and electricity generation at the Long Gully Road tip.

At that time, we implemented all of the threatened species action plans that were required. We were the first jurisdiction to complete them and to review them. We did that. We revamped the Tidbinbilla visitors centre so that people could go out and understand what the bush capital was about, through having the recycled water plant there, through having the new mud brick building there and by putting in place the walks, the boardwalks and the things that were required so that people could see it.

We set up an accessible and adaptable aged persons unit. We did the mini hydro at Stromlo. We put land back to the reserves. We moved the Gungahlin town centre because that is what the community said they wanted. We said that there would not be construction in the Jerrabomberra valley in the ACT. We cut back on east O’Malley. We started the weed removal. We started the water tune-up program. We put in place the water legislation. We did the restocking of the fish. We put groynes in the river. We signed the packaging of Forde. We started the grey-water mining. We had school programs. We started GreenChoice. We had Greenfleet. We participated in the earth charter. We gave support to Revolve. And so the list goes on.

We understood and listened to the community. We worked with them—unlike those opposite, who could not even mention working with the community in the speech that Mr Gentleman gave.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.05): Thank you, Mr Gentleman, for giving me such a fantastic topic to wax lyrical upon. Of course the ACT is blessed with a wonderful natural environment that, unfortunately, is becoming seriously stressed by drought and by human incursions—not that the ACT, as a capital city, can fully take all the responsibility for that. We know that Canberra, as a sheep farm, with its fragile soils, was already feeling the strain well before it was chosen to be Australia’s capital city.

Indeed, I would acknowledge that, in many ways, becoming a capital city may have saved some areas of our environment. For instance, if there was not a capital city here, would Namadgi national park have been declared? Perhaps it would have been just included in the Brindabella national park. But we must be very careful not to just generalise and always assume that human development is bad for nature. The trick is to find a kind of human development that enhances nature, at the very least does not damage it and, preferably, provides for that balance between human activity and natural activity.

More and more, we are beginning to understand that if the environment collapses, we collapse. But it is extraordinary that we went through so many centuries of thinking that human beings could do what they like and the environment would recover. There was a belief that there was no limit to resources such as oil and coal and all those things that drove the wealth and made many families very rich. They maintain that richness today and they use that richness to guard themselves, they believe, against the environmental degradation.

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