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Thursday, 11 September 2003
Page: 19960

Mr HAASE (12:36 PM) —I rise today to bring the attention of the House to the fact that last Sunday, 7 September, was National Threatened Species Day, first celebrated in 1996. It is celebrated on 7 September because it marks the date on which, more than 60 years ago, the last Tasmanian tiger died in captivity. Monday, 8 September, saw the presentation of the Hands on for Habitat Awards 2003. I was fortunate enough to join my colleague and parliamentary secretary Doctor Sharman Stone at the Australian National Botanical Gardens at Black Mountain to recognise some of the award winners.

National Threatened Species Day and the subsequent Hands on for Habitat Awards are all about making younger Australians aware of the fragile environment in which we live. Habitat protection is one of the key environmental issues facing Australia today. Habitat change and loss have been and remain the most significant causes of loss of biodiversity. The good news is that with increased knowledge, sound planning and cooperation between government, industry and all members of the community we can work towards protecting native habitats. With the support of the Australian government through the Natural Heritage Trust, local communities throughout Australia are improving habitat, establishing wildlife corridors, fencing off waterways and replanting native vegetation on public and private land.

The important thing about this whole award process is that, out of the 4,000 students who participated from some 214 schools, the electorate of Kalgoorlie has figured well in dispatches. The junior primary award went to Pegs Creek Primary School from my own home town of Karratha. Their entry was of a very high standard. They studied four different Australian habitats: the bushlands, the deserts and plains, the wetlands and swamps, and the rainforests. This year, the year 3 students helped to teach the pre-primary students about habitats and threatened species. Students studied the different food chains that exist in a range of habitats, they brainstormed some of the ways they could help threatened species and they created a poster showing all the different ways. Some of the ideas they came up with to protect the threatened species and their habitats included breeding programs, wildlife parks, research, planting native trees, maintaining fences, public education and promotion, controlling domestic pets, recycling and supporting conservation projects. Pegs Creek have won $4,000 for their school to fund habitat conservation projects. They are going to use this money to establish a native garden in their school to attract native birds, lizards and insects. They have also won a digital camera valued at over $1,000 and, before very long, I will present them with a framed Threatened Species Day poster as well as Cadbury Yowie gift packs and stickers.

The second award winner from my electorate was none other than 10-year-old Tara Bailey, who received an award of commendation. I was talking to Tara this morning; she is looking forward to her 11th birthday on 22 September. She is from Moradah Station, just south of the Fitzroy in the Kimberley region. Her teacher, Carolyn Hutton, motivated all of Tara's class into putting some excellent work forward to highlight our threatened species. Tara highlighted the threatened species called the red-tailed phascogale. A huge Australian population of that species has now dwindled to fewer than 10,000 in the south-west wheat belt of Western Australia. It is a sad day when we lose so many of our species.

It was none other than pre-primary teacher Natalie Contarino and classroom teacher Mareesa Buchanan from Pegs Creek Primary School who put so much effort into guiding those schoolchildren through this whole project. Out of the 4,000 participating students right across this nation, those two groups of schoolchildren were well recognised. It augurs well that children from places as far flung as the Kalgoorlie electorate are doing their bit to improve the opportunity for the environment. Knowing that it is in those young hands I think augurs well for the future.