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Tuesday, 4 April 2000
Page: 15200

Mrs MAY (10:54 PM) —I never miss an opportunity to recognise local achievement or to promote the wonderful natural assets we enjoy on the southern Gold Coast, part of the tourism capital of Australia. Fortunately, tonight I have the opportunity to do both. I am very pleased to report to the House that Palm Beach was named Queensland's cleanest beach in the hotly contested Vivendi-Collex Clean Beach Challenge last month. Those of us who live on the southern Gold Coast know that we are blessed with many wonderful beaches—Mermaid Beach, Burleigh, Palm Beach, Currumbin, Tugun, Kirra and Coolangatta. The Gold Coast has been recognised many times as having the best beaches in the world, but I am particularly proud that Palm Beach has been named the cleanest beach. It is a testament to the many local residents who I know work hard to keep the beach litter free and in top condition.

Living so close to the beach and really being spoilt for choice when it comes to our beaches it would be easy to take our beach environment for granted, but Gold Coast residents certainly do not. There are many dedicated community groups as well as individuals who make it their task to keep our beaches clean. In so doing, they are not only making our beaches a wonderful playground for locals but they help enhance the coast tourism appeal and attract more visitors which, in turn, means more support for local businesses and the creation of more local jobs.

I am also delighted to report that Tallebudgera school camp won the `Legends' award of the Clean Beach Challenge. The camp is a Gold Coast icon and it is very fitting that students who come to the school are taught about beach care, marine life and surf awareness. They also have the `Dune care demons' who are involved in dune planting and revegetation work as well as collecting litter on a daily basis. I congratulate everyone at the Tallebudgera school camp on their ongoing contribution to our environment.

I am delighted that the Clean Beach Challenge has recognised the endeavour and the pride of southern Gold Coast residents in this way. I would also like to thank the many local residents who are helping contribute to the Currumbin Creek Saltwater Creek Bluewater Task Force project. This project aims to address water quality concerns at Saltwater Creek and restore the natural environment. It is being conducted by the local Surfrider Foundation in conjunction with the Gold Coast City Council and I am proud to say funded by the Howard government's program. It was an honour for me to officially launch the project last month and to help with some of the revegetation planting along the creek bank. I know there are many community volunteers who are helping on an ongoing basis. The main idea behind the program is to instil an old-fashioned feeling with the local community to protect and care for their backyard, and the Surfrider Foundation will eventually be leaving the local community to continue the work which the project sets in place.

The Coastcare program is one of the many shining successes within the Howard government's Natural Heritage Trust—the biggest ever commitment to our environment in Australia's history. Coastcare is now in its fifth year and has some impressive achievements. There are currently around 800 community groups involved in Coastcare projects throughout the nation and more than 1,400 different projects have been funded to date. Like many other Howard government programs, we believe its success lies in the fact that it is community based, that we are backing local communities who care passionately about their area and who can achieve the very best outcome, and we are also helping to foster a real community spirit which is lost when funding is directed to special interest groups and rarely finds its way to local communities rather than on the ground where it is needed most.

I congratulate the people of the southern Gold Coast for their ongoing commitment to our local environment. I recommend to members of this House that next time you want to get away to bring your families to the southern Gold Coast and come and experience first-hand the most spectacular and cleanest beaches in Queensland and, in my view, the world.