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Wednesday, 11 March 1998
Page: 1043

Mr BARRESI (7:45 PM) —As Australians, all of us can be proud that in the face of crisis, emergency or national need we traditionally band together to work for the common good. On Sunday, 1 March we saw it again. Over half a million Australians participated in the war on trash through involvement in the clean up Australia campaign. The campaign has steadily gathered steam since Ian Kiernan decide that Sydney Harbour needed a good clean and enlisted the aid of volunteers in 1989. Nearly a decade since, each of us has become more environmentally conscious, particularly those of us who have children. Certainly we give more thought to the kind of place we will hand over to our children.

But it is more than that. Children today are taught from an early age the value of ecologically sound practices such as recycling and they constantly remind their parents to do their bit. Today a typical Aussie home would be incomplete without paper, glass or plastic recycling containers and, in most cases, in the corner of the backyard, thousands of little worms eating away at the smorgasbord offered by the compost bin.

In every survey of issues that matter to young Australians, the environment is at or near the top of the ladder. Not surprisingly then, the involvement of school aged children in clean up Australia was heavy. The importance of the environment is underlined by the Howard government's commitment of over $1 billion through the Natural Heritage Trust, the biggest environmental package in our nation's history. Many would say that Deakin, the heart and soul of Melbourne, has no national environmental treasures such as the Grampians, Wilsons Prom, the Great Ocean Road or the Murray-Darling basin, which is to our north.

Mr Crean —They've got you.

Mr BARRESI —You are right, Simon; they have me. With the government doing its share on massive projects of national importance and on the international stage such as the Kyoto conference, we need to maintain the momentum on a more local level. In Natural Heritage Trust terms we miss out, but we have ample urban based sites of environmental sensitivity. To many of us the slogan `Think globally, act locally' is very pertinent. I am proud to say that in Deakin many people are doing exactly that. About 3,000 people participated in various projects associated with Clean Up Australia, involving 33 community groups.

I had the pleasure along with my young son Paul to be part of that volunteer army who participated in the environmentally sensitive regions of Blackburn Lake Sanctuary and later at Loughies Bushland in North Ringwood. I congratulate the organisers at those two sites as I congratulate the organisers and volunteers at the other 33 sites. When most city slickers think about clean ups, I suspect that in their mind they see ice-cream wrappers, cigarette butts and empty beer bottles. There were plenty of those in Melbourne's beautiful eastern suburbs, but there was more—a lot more. Among the rubbish removed from various local sites were tyres, car body parts, mobile phones, money, unopened bottles of wine, knives, surgical catheter tubes, road signs, shopping trolleys and, I understand, four bongs.

In the electorate there are significant green belt areas, areas that are much favoured by home buyers and home builders. Ironically, Loughies Bushland is one such place. It was in areas such as this that I witnessed one of the great contradictions between environmental behaviour and environmental attitude. There we found refuse left, I presume, by builders erecting homes presumably purchased by people seeking to live in leafy, unspoilt environs, much of it tossed over the fence into bushland reserve.

While we were dragging unwanted fishing tackle from the water at Blackburn Lake, we were interrupted by those who arrived to stake out their favourite spot right alongside the sign that says in big, bold letters `No fishing'. Obviously we all need to do better to ensure that this senseless dumping of materials ceases and that there are laws against it. With greater vigilance from local government by-laws officers, users and especially from those who will immediately benefit from moving into more pristine surroundings, the next clean up should be a routine exercise.

While most of us can talk about environmental sensitivity, there are still far too many Australians who are unaware that their actions are causing ongoing damage. I trust that those in our community who demand greater re sources for the management and upkeep of their creeks, nature trails, wetlands and parks are not the same urban based dwellers who are less than vigilant with their own backyards. But it is not all bad news. Around Australia on that weekend over 500,000 Australians felt it important to contribute their time to cleaning up. Australians picked up 17,000 tonnes of trash on that Sunday. It is a commendable effort. I congratulate the people of Deakin for their continued concern for our environmental community.