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Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Page: 27467


Mr BARTLETT (9:49 AM) —My electorate, which includes the recently world heritage listed Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury region, contains large areas of pristine quality wilderness, other areas which are very fragile, and yet others which are sadly degraded. A number of current issues are of particular importance to protecting, conserving and restoring parts of the local environment. The first is the New South Wales government's appalling decision to terminate the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Trust.

This organisation had done a tremendous job in raising awareness of environmental issues, in pulling together a large number of private sector and public sector organisations active in the region, in developing a coordinated approach to catchment management issues, and in attracting huge funding for local environmental projects. It was a very effective independent voice on environmental matters. Its termination by the New South Wales Labor government has been an absolute act of betrayal of the local environment—an appalling, inexplicable decision. I call on the New South Wales government to reverse this appalling decision and to give some consideration to the environment of the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment.

Honourable members interjecting


Mr BARTLETT —The second issue involves the current plans for the development of the ADI site at St Mary's. This extensive site cannot cope with the scale of development initially planned by the Keating government. Even the current downgraded plans allow for too much development. It is essential that the maximum amount of heritage value remnant Cumberland Plain woodland be retained. Further, any development must be with a clear view to the social and infrastructure needs of Western Sydney. We cannot allow development in Western Sydney which further degrades the environment of this area.

Thirdly, the work of the government's Natural Heritage Trust has been very important in assisting local organisations, land care and bush care groups in their valuable work in protecting threatened parts of the local environment and in restoring degraded parts. Over the past four years, over $5 million worth of local projects have been funded by the government's Natural Heritage Trust. I am pleased to see that in the recent budget the Howard government has committed a further $1 billion to extend the Natural Heritage Trust. It is worth noting that the Howard government has spent substantially more on the environment than the former government even thought of spending.

This government is committed to protecting Australia's environment and to helping local communities in their local environmental work. I was dismayed to read of Labor's lack of support for the Natural Heritage Trust and their very unfair criticism of the many committed local groups working together to achieve positive outcomes for our local environment. These local groups do a tremendous job and deserve continued support. I am pleased that the Howard government is going to give this much-needed continued support to our local environmental workers.

Honourable members interjecting


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl)—Before I call the next member, I would like to remind members on both sides of the chamber that today is only Wednesday. Thursday is Stroppy Day, so please settle down.