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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 3234


Ms TEMPLEMAN (Macquarie) (16:44): At the northern end of my electorate, where you cross the river on the ferry at Wisemans, lies the little hamlet of St Albans. This is a community of historic buildings, farms and wilderness. It is surrounded by Yengo National Park, part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area. Maureen makes the best pecan pie and you can share your breakfast at Ian and Gabrielle's Settlers Arms with the resident ghost. It is in the Macdonald Valley, but it is better known as the 'forgotten valley'.

One of the special things about St Albans, aside from its tiny public school, the oldest in New South Wales, is its common. The St Albans Common has existed since at least 1824. The common, a large piece of grazing land that runs along the Mogo Creek, originally provided pasture and water for stock and has continuously operated. It is now under the stewardship of trustees who succeeded the original commoners and plays an important part in the connectivity of this community. The commons lake is also a well-managed and significant habitat for bird and marine life. In fact, from 11 to 13 November, the annual carp fishing competition will be held. I am looking forward to catching up with the fishers as they help to reduce carp numbers in this stretch of water.

This land is privately owned, reserved for the use of the commoners. The whole area is now listed as a conservation area, ensuring its preservation for future generations of St Albans commoners, but it has been under threat thanks to a New South Wales government Crown land management bill this week in parliament. The bill would mean that the common cannot operate as it always has, and who knows what consequences that would bring? I wrote to the New South Wales Minister for Lands and Water urging him to ensure the commons remains firmly in the hands of the community, which has acted so responsibly for 161 years in managing this important land. I am pleased to say that today we heard that St Albans will be exempted for the time being from that bill. This is a win for a community that has fought very hard, and I hope a permanent resolution is soon found.

The other issue for this area is mobile phone reception. Tourists come to St Albans for a lot of events. It hosts one of the country's most famous endurance horse rides, the Shahzada Memorial Endurance Test, the annual folk music festival, held in autumn, and the annual writers festival, which I am proud to be a sponsor of, held in spring. Even lunch at the pub is a good enough reason to make the round trip. But, once you cross at the Webbs Creek ferry or Wisemans, the mobile signal goes. In good times, who cares? But, when accidents or, as is regularly the case in this part of the world, bushfires or floods occur, you need to be able to communicate fast. I want to make sure that the government promise to deliver mobile phone reception is carried out. (Time expired)