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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13265

Environment: Government Initiatives

Mr HASTIE (Canning) (15:00): My question is to the Minister for the Environment. I recently had the pleasure of attending the Len Howard Conservation Park and Peel Inlet Reserve Green Army graduations. It was great to see young people working to conserve the Canning environment. For the benefit of my constituents, can the minister please provide an update on the Green Army Program and practical environmental initiatives, such as the National Landcare Programme, which are having a real impact in my local community.

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (15:00): I would like to thank the member of the Canning, who has in fact already made representations on behalf of his electorate with regards to both the Green Army, Landcare and the new Peel-Harvey Catchment Council. Let me say this: all up across Australia there have been more than 700 Green Army projects announced—almost 500 Green Army projects have commenced or have been completed. In other words, we are well ahead of schedule—well ahead of where we had planned to be by this time.

In his own electorate, by my recollection, nine projects under the Green Army have been announced, including the one to which he referred—the Len Howard Park—three of which have been completed, two of which are underway and, I think, another four have been proposed. The Len Howard Park is an interesting example: it was a case of young Australians helping to revegetate bush, to rehabilitate land, to remove invasive species, to work on the basis of riverbank restoration and putting pathways in bushland—all of the things that one would want for an environmental program and project, as well as all of the things that one would want for the development of young Australians' skills and knowledge base.

I know from my recent experiences of talking to Green Army participants that many of them have said that it has given them the opportunity to enter the workforce and, in some cases, to return from mental health situations where they were not confident to be in the workforce or to be in public; and that is has been a tremendous success so far. The member the Canning also asks about the National Landcare Programme. The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council in his electorate is the only new catchment council created in Australia during the life of this government. It was created because there were genuine water quality needs; it is an example of issues where urban development meets the environment come to the forefront. The reason that it was created was to deal in particular with water quality problems in the Peel-Harvey catchment. I know that his predecessor gave an enormous amount of time and effort to seeing this done. Since the catchment council has been announced, just over $2½ million dollars has been made available. Currently, I think $150,000 in small grants for local community groups is due to be completed in a very short period. We have our young Australians in the Green Army working on the ground in Canning; we have a new catchment council under the National Landcare Programme doing practical work to improve water quality, to improve riparian areas and to improve the Peel-Harvey catchment and environment. Well done.