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Thursday, 20 September 2001
Page: 31178

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (9:43 AM) —As honourable members and my local community are aware, I am a very strong supporter of our environment and of this nation's environmental future. Today, I wish to praise a community organisation in the electorate of Fisher which has worked hard over many years to establish itself as a formidable proponent of our local natural environment—the Sunshine Coast Environment Council.

I have been associated with the Sunshine Coast Environment Council over a number of years. Last week I had the opportunity to thank personally workers of the Sunshine Coast Environment Council. In this International Year of the Volunteer, environment council leaders wanted to reward their hard-working members in a special way by having local politicians and other community representatives cook breakfast for those people who work on behalf of the environment in the area. Along with other elected representatives I was particularly pleased to be able to be present at the Nambour showground to barbecue bacon and eggs and other delicacies for breakfast to show our collective appreciation of the wonderful work that the Sunshine Coast Environment Council does in our local area.

The natural environment of the Sunshine Coast holds a special place in the hearts and minds of local residents. Members who have been to this magnificent part of the world will understand why. That was one of the reasons why I was particularly pleased to learn that the Howard government is giving environmental groups some $80,000 as part of the Natural Heritage Trust. This will boost the protection of our environmental future on the Sunshine Coast.

In particular, I am delighted that the Sunshine Coast Environment Council will receive over $30,000 for its Mooloolah River wildlife corridor project. This is a great project which will enable the Mooloolah River and Palmview national parks to be strongly linked through a solid riparian corridor. I hope to visit this project shortly and look forward to catching up with those volunteers working on it. I am also delighted to announce that Mooloolah Waterwatch will receive $20,000 from the Natural Heritage Trust and the Mooloolah headwater protection and restoration project will receive almost $30,000.

I am particularly pleased to be part of a government which has made significant and tangible advances in managing and protecting the environment after 200 years of European settlement in Australia. The Natural Heritage Trust, which members opposite hypocritically opposed, is the largest environment restoration program in Australia's history and I am delighted that trust funds are being used to restore areas of the Sunshine Coast's natural environment so that we can continue to enjoy this natural beauty for many years to come.