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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Page: 1018

Dr LEIGH (4:42 PM) —I have often spoken about the role that volunteers and voluntary organisations play in bringing the community together, acting as a kind of social glue. People volunteer for many reasons and in many different ways, but I firmly believe that some of the most important voluntary work is done by those groups involved with the local environment. My home of Canberra is blessed with a number of park care, catchment and bushland groups, all of which are active in conserving the natural environment in our bush capital.

I recently held a community forum for members of my electorate who are involved in the conservation and environment sector. Among the groups that attended were Friends of Mount Painter Park Care Group, Mount Rogers Landcare Group, Dunlop Environment Volunteers, the Conservation Council, the Cooleman Ridge Park Care Group, ANUgreen, the Ginninderra Catchment Group, Friends of Aranda Bushland and Friends of Mount Majura. As you can imagine, these organisations and others, like the Molonglo Catchment Group, Friends of Grasslands and Greening Australia Capital Region, are incredibly active organisations.

Working in partnership with the community and government, they are able to deal successfully with a range of areas. Every weekend, whatever the weather, volunteers from these groups are out tackling issues as varied as stormwater quality, invasive flora and fauna, environmental restoration, cultural and heritage conservation and urban and regional planning. While the electorate of Fraser is a largely metropolitan one, it is also a diverse natural environment, from grass flats and wetlands in the valleys, to rugged woodland dominating the hill tops. The diversity of the natural environment is extraordinary.

From environmental organisers like Jean Geue, Waltraud Pix, Anna See, Sarah Hnatiuk, Pamela and Fred Fawke, Bart Meehan and John Sullivan, I have learnt a lot about our local geography. For example, Black Mountain supports a diverse natural ecosystem that hosts an astonishing 59 varieties of orchids. I have also become accustomed to the ongoing battles against rabbits and the purple peril—the noxious weed Paterson’s curse that Landcare groups have to take the fight to when it invades the ACT each spring.

I heard how people from all backgrounds—university students and staff, public servants, tradespeople, retirees—come together to make a difference to the environment that we all share. Volunteering with a park care group is not only an enjoyable opportunity to look after the environment, it is also a great way to learn about nature, get to know likeminded people in your local community. To get involved all that is needed is a pair of strong shoes and a bit of enthusiasm.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—In accordance with standing order 193, the time for constituency statements has concluded.