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Monday, 30 May 2011
Page: 5221

Mr COULTON (ParkesThe Nationals Chief Whip) (19:30): I rise tonight to speak on the 40th anniversary of the Ramsar convention. I acknowledge the contribution of the member for Newcastle. As someone who has two daughters who attended the University of Newcastle, adjoining the Newcastle wetlands, she did not mention the emblem of Newcastle and the bird that recognises that—that is the mosquito. But I digress. It is a wonderful attraction in Newcastle.

Ramsar is the only global environmental treaty which deals with a particular ecosystem. The convention's mission is:

... the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.

In the Parkes electorate there are four significant wetlands, which cover collectively 163,000 hectares. The Gwydir wetlands—that is, the Gingham and the Lower Gwydir—make up 823 hectares around 60 kilometres west of Moree and are considered an inland terminal delta, as four wetlands make up the site. The Gwydir wetlands are special because they provide breeding and feeding habitat for large numbers of colonial waterbirds.

The Macquarie Marshes is probably one of the most recognised sites in my electorate. It is located 100 kilometres from Warren. It has international importance and is one of the largest remaining inland semipermanent wetlands in south-eastern Australia. It is a major waterbird breeding area and an important refuge for a large number of other wildlife species.

Narran Lake is a very spectacular nature reserve of 5,531 hectares situated approximately 75 kilometres north-west of Walgett and 50 kilometres north-east of Brewarrina in the north-west of New South Wales. Narran wetlands are among the highest ranked sites for species richness, number of breeding species and total number of birds.

The Paroo River wetlands, making up 138,304 hectares, have two components—the 71,133-hectare Nocoleche Nature Reserve, which is approximately 180 kilometres west of Bourke, and the 67,171-hectare Peery component, which is located within the Paroo-Darling National Park, around 240 kilometres south-west of Bourke. These support a large number of threatened plant and animal species.

At the moment the wetlands in my electorate are absolutely magnificent. They are completely saturated, and the wildlife has returned. Indeed, tourism is flourishing in western New South Wales at the moment, largely because of the introduction of water into these areas. I would like to make some points with regard to the intention of some people in this place and in a wider area to play the role that nature has played for thousands of years. Over the last few years we have seen the government buy up millions and millions of dollars worth of water in the name of protecting the environment. The futility of buying water and storing it in dams—I might say by relative newcomers to the system, many of whom have been there for only the last 40 or 50 years—was shown last summer, when Mother Nature took things into her own hands and, with no help from mankind, replenished those wetlands in a cyclical nature, as she has done for millions of years. So we now have our dams full of so-called environmental water ready for the next so-called flush to the wetlands.

But these wetlands are ephemeral. They go dry when it is dry and they flourish and come to life when it rains. The arrogance of mankind in trying to take on the role of nature to control these wetlands is futile and making very little difference to the health and overall nature of these sites whilst significantly impacting on the wealth and productivity of— (Time expired)