Page 644 - Week 02 - Thursday, 14 February 2013

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It is through the actions of people such as Lauren and Angela and thousands of others like them across Australia that we will see proper recognition of early childhood educators this year in the commonwealth budget. I would urge members of the Assembly to find out more about this campaign, the importance of the first years of our most precious resources’ lives. I urge them to go to the big steps web page so they can find out more information and also ways they can become involved in the campaign.

Snakes Alive

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4.40): I rise tonight to talk about an event I had the pleasure of opening in January this year—the 21st anniversary of Snakes Alive at the National Botanic Gardens. Snakes Alive is a show for visitors of all ages from the ACT and surrounding regions and, of course, further afield as well, including some from overseas, that shows some of Australia’s unique reptiles and amphibians and educates about the role they play in our environment and the importance of their conservation.

Snakes Alive provides an opportunity to handle suitable pythons, lizards and turtles to practically experience some of their characteristics. During the time the exhibition is held visitors are able to observe snakes, lizards and frogs being fed and have the animals’ requirements explained to them. All the funds raised for that event go to the efforts to save the corroboree frog which, as you are aware, is an endangered species in the ACT.

The Snakes Alive exhibition is organised by the ACT Herpetological Association, and that branch of zoology is concerned, as we have heard, with reptiles and amphibians. The ACT branch was established in 1985 and it aims to promote the study and conservation of reptiles and amphibians and to foster a positive community feeling towards this misunderstood group of animals. Their members encompass a broad cross-section of the community, and quite a number of their members were at the event, many that I have met before.

I would like to recognise Ric Longmore, the creator of Snakes Alive, Dennis Dyer, Margaret Ning and the volunteers of the Australian National Botanic Gardens that were at the event as well. It turns out that Ric Longmore and I both grew up at the same time here in the ACT as young boys under the shadow of Mount Ainslie, and we used to spend our weekends up there searching for lizards and other beasts, as young boys do. So it was quite an enjoyable event to share some of those stories of our early childhood with the people visiting.

I explain again how great this annual event is for young people and those interested in the topic around the ACT, and I extend congratulations to everybody. I hope next year’s event is just as good as this year’s.

Health—drug use

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (4.43): In December last year I had the pleasure of presenting awards to the people who have made outstanding contributions in

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