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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9105

Tuggerah Lakes

Mr CRAIG THOMSON (Dobell) (14:30): My question is to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. In 2007 I secured $20 million funding for five years for the important work of rejuvenating Tuggerah Lakes. Wyong Shire Council, under the leadership of Mayor Bob Graham, matched that funding and have been delivering the necessary work for the lakes. The five years is up soon. Will the government commit to continue funding the vital work needed to save Tuggerah Lakes?

Mr BURKE (WatsonMinister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) (14:30): I thank the member for Dobell for the question. Tuggerah Lakes has been an iconic project for many years across the Central Coast and an area iconic not only for people on the Central Coast. You would not find too many people who have grown up in Sydney who have not had many of their holidays up there, gone prawning in areas of Tuggerah Lakes and seen the magnificent seabirds there, in particular the pelicans but also a series of endangered species.

The $20 million commitment that the member for Dobell refers to was put into two stages. The first was about $7½ million, and then there was a second stage. The first has been fully expended. It feeds from two rivers—the Wyong and the Ourimbah. The work is actually being done, led by the council there, by a whole lot of volunteers, in part—hundreds of volunteers—working in revegetating the area.

You have real problems in Tuggerah Lakes with run-off and nutrients coming through the catchments down into Tuggerah. The work of volunteers being led by the council—he mentions Bob Graham—has been work that has made a real difference in the water quality and the native vegetation of the area. I understand there are two milestone payments still to be made. All the advice that I have received is that they remain on track to be made. I think the next one is due in September.

The member also asks about future funding for Tuggerah Lakes. It is something that he has raised in question time today, previously in the parliament and directly with me. Funding for Tuggerah Lakes has been coming out of Caring for our Country. Members may be aware that Caring for our Country has finished its first five years, and the review is taking place to determine the future of Caring for our Country and the exact way that that will be configured. Submissions for that funding review closed three or four days ago, so it will not be long before the government is in a position to make announcements about the exact nature of Caring for our Country, as to which programs it gets broken up into in the future.

I have to say, looking at the progress over the last five years, Tuggerah Lakes has been one of the great success stories of the project. It has been a great example of community engagement and a great example of substantial environmental improvement in something that is iconic to the people of Central Coast and beyond.