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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14771


Ms SCOTT (Lindsay) (09:33): The electorate of Lindsay is bound and cut through by the beautiful Nepean River. This wonderful freshwater river has served our community for many generations. Many of the farming communities in Western Sydney were started along the fresh water from our Nepean River. Upstream from the Nepean River is the Warragamba Dam, which is Sydney's major water supply. Downstream this river further feeds the Hawkesbury River system, on which many people enjoy boating and recreational activities. For more than a century, the Nepean River has been a playground for people of Penrith, and even today we have the beautiful Nepean Belle, a paddleboat that goes go up and down the river. Our river, though, has also been under much stress for many different reasons in many different ways. The overfertilisation of crops has meant the growth of various weeds which have damaged our river.

However, today I am very proud to say that the local Landcare groups have done amazing work to rehabilitate the river. About a decade ago the river looked more like a stagnant millpond. Many hundreds of thousands of weeds were choking the river, including black willows, which had been introduced after the Second World War. The noxious alligator weed had left the river, in some places, looking like a grassy lawn. The drought fed into the condition of the river, making the work look all the more challenging.

The changes to the river through dredging and quarrying to build the Warragamba Dam had massive effects on our river. I am pleased to say that the federal government has helped to steer the state and local authorities with programs to tackle weed management. Groups like Landcare and programs like the 20 Million Trees project—one million of these trees will be coming into the Cumberland Conservation Corridor—have helped to turn the health of our river around. I was very privileged recently to take a canoe trip from Emu Plains to Agnes Banks, where I could see this work in action. Where once alligator weed was choking the river, beautiful fresh water flows. These weeds have now been replaced with many native plants.

A lot of work has been done by biosecurity organisations like the CSIRO to find ways of fixing this problem. I would like to commend Bill Dixon, David Hogan, Peter Chia, Matt Plunkett, Vanessa Keyzer, Jeff Cottrell and Den Barber for the work that they have done in rehabilitating our stunning Nepean River.