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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2489

Senator COATES —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories and Local Government. In view of the fact that today is World Environment Day 1984, I ask him what progress is being made towards a national parks system to protect Australia's fragile alpine areas in and around the Australian Capital Territory.

Senator GIETZELT —I think it is well recognised that the Australian Government has a very deep commitment to protecting the national environment. Therefore it is singularly appropriate that, on World Environment Day, the Minister for Territories and Local Government, Mr Uren, has chosen to take advantage of the date to make an announcement about establishing a major national park in the Australian Capital Territory to be known as the Namadgi national park. I understand that the size of that park will be 94,000 hectares comprising the present Gudgenby nature reserve and a large part of the Cotter River valley. Those of us who have used this area recognise its unique character. This represents a significant extension of the existing system of reserves in the Australian Capital Territory, and I am advised that the Minister's decision means that approximately half of the Australian Capital Territory will now be part of that natural area.

Namadgi will be a particularly valuable resource as it will adjoin the existing and planned alpine parks in New South Wales, that is, Kosciusko and the Scabby Range-I found that an unusual description-and the proposed Bimberi nature reserve. This will mean that the Government will be well on its way towards establishing a continuous system of national parks encompassing virtually all of Australia's ecologically fragile mainland alpine areas, located in the area between the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria. The Government's decision means that Namadgi will comprise areas of great natural beauty as well as important ecological features and interesting wildlife species, many of which have been declared rare and endangered. Therefore the Minister's decision indicates the Government's acceptance of the importance of World Environment Day 1984.