Page 607 - Week 02 - Thursday, 20 February 2020

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fate befall Whitlam, Moncrieff and Taylor? These areas were all once healthy rural lands with beautiful tree cover.

Mr Rattenbury gave a memorable performance just last week, appearing shocked and angry that successive Labor governments had failed to deliver on their tree promises, so perhaps this motion today is a belated recognition that his government—the one he has been a part of for most of his political career—has failed. The Canberra Liberals support this motion because it is the right thing to do, but the hypocrisy of Mr Rattenbury in moving it today is not lost on us or on a great many Canberrans.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (12.04), in reply: I thank members for their support for this motion. I will skip over the politics, which always seems to be present, and simply reflect on the fact that I think this is one of those things that need to be addressed. There is a gap in the history of this. If we look at the landscape we realise that not including this area as part of the nature park prevents us having a buffer from Antill Street right into the reserve. That would maintain the integrity of the reserve, which is very important.

I appreciate the more technical comments, including those from Minister Stephen-Smith in particular. There are facilities in that area, like the Ted Noffs Foundation and a small farmhouse, so working out where to put the boundaries would be part of the assessment process. Certainly, it is not my intention that those facilities—or anything similar—would be removed, but the area could be redefined as part of that nature reserve and caveats or grandfathering conditions placed on sites where there are already facilities.

I look forward to having the report back in the Assembly later in the year, once the government ecologists have had a chance to look at this and provide more detailed advice to the Assembly and to Minister Gentleman with respect to his portfolio responsibilities. We can then make some clearer, more informed decisions about the most appropriate way to proceed with this. We need to make sure, as we think about the future of the city, that areas that have ecological value are set aside so that we can ensure their protection and so that Canberra continues to be the bush capital, with its excellent network of protected areas.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Leave of absence

Motion (by Ms Cheyne) agreed to:

That leave of absence be granted to Mr Gentleman today to attend a ministerial council.

Sitting suspended from 12.07 to 2.00 pm.

Ministerial arrangements

MR BARR: Minister Gentleman will absent from question time today. The Attorney-General, Mr Ramsay, will take questions in Mr Gentleman’s portfolios.

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