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Monday, 29 September 1997
Page: 8625


Mr ALBANESE(1.41 p.m.) —I am also pleased to rise this afternoon to support the motion put before this House by the member for Parkes (Mr Cobb), and I congratulate him for doing so. It is timely that the parliament—indeed the people of Australia—be reminded of the urgent need to take action.

Australia has a very poor record over the last 200 years on this issue. Indeed, 50 per cent of all mammal species that have become extinct worldwide in the last 200 years were in Australia. In addition to these species which have gone forever, there are at least 100 animal species endangered in Australia today. Most Australian species and ecological communities in Australia are unique to here and found nowhere else in the world. Therefore, we have a responsibility to the international community, not just to our own nation, to protect, to sustain and to encourage this diversity.

It might seem unusual for the member for Grayndler to be speaking on this issue, given that I represent the second smallest electorate in Australia, but I think it is important that parliamentarians and people who live in inner urban areas also raise these issues. Without that public support from people who live in urban areas, the politics of the issues will ensure that further devastation occurs. I also quote Tim Flannery's excellent article in the Sydney Morning Herald on these issues. In talking about the need for urban Sydney to be considered, he said:

A human habitat without significant wildlife is a sterile one, alienated from the biosphere which supports us.

Grayndler is a very urban electorate. Most species native to this area have been made extinct or have relocated due to the pressures of an urbanised environment.

Today I want to give an example of how this is being addressed in one particular case. The green and golden bell frog was once flourishing in the Cooks River area but has now all but disappeared. The Cooks River is one of the only waterways in Australia where fishing is totally banned. Local residents have started their own rehabilitation program. With help from the Marrickville Council, they are attempting to re-establish the sort of environment that will allow native species such as the green and golden bell frog to return to the Cooks River.

In conjunction with the New South Wales Labor government, under the Minister for the Environment, Pam Allan, a major program has begun to ensure that the Cooks River waterway undergoes a rehabilitation in the lead-up to the 2000 Olympics. This strategy includes addressing sewage and stormwater pollution, the restoration of native plants and wildlife communities, the development of community recreation opportunities and also the recognition of our indigenous history in the area. This is one of the most important ways to save urban native—


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl) —Order! It being 1.45 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 106A. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.