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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 626

Ms COLLINS (10:33 AM) —I rise this morning to talk about a recent visit to my electorate by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. I was fortunate to be involved in a visit with the minister to a small town south of Hobart—called Franklin, strangely enough. We were there to announce the Egg Islands reserve as part of Australia’s National Reserve System. We were privileged to be able to go in a small rowboat—an old wooden boat built in the Franklin area. The Franklin area in my electorate is renowned for its wooden-boat-building skills and the museum down there. We got to row out to have a look at the Egg Islands reserve that we are announcing. It was quite special. These islands are very low-lying islands. They have some of Australia’s unique flora and fauna on them. As I said, they were announced as part of the National Reserve System.

The Australian government provided $200,000 to help establish this Egg Islands reserve—it is a national reserve—together with the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, which is a not-for-profit organisation that raises funds and donations to purchase land to have it reserved for its natural values so that future generations can appreciate its beauty. It really was interesting to see the cooperation between the local community, the Australian government and this not-for-profit organisation in working together to get these islands protected.

This is 125 hectares of bushland that we have now protected forever. There is a whole range of birds, mammals and reptiles—including short-beaked echidnas and pademelons—on this newly created reserve. But it also has international and national significance as a wetland habitat that accommodates the endangered black gum forest. The islands are just spectacular. I am really passionate about protecting these islands and I was really pleased that we were part of that announcement. It really is about conserving and protecting this unique environment.

The Rudd government plans to increase Australia’s National Reserve System by 25 per cent to 125 million hectares by 2013, and we have dedicated $180 million to the Caring for Our Country program to assist with this. This means that we will continue preserving environmentally important sites around Australia so that our children and the generations to come can enjoy the sights and sounds.

I was a bit concerned when I arrived to go to these Egg Islands as the locals call them the snake islands. Needless to say, I did not get out of the boat, and nor did the minister. But it was fantastic to see them. I would like to also put on record my appreciation for what the Tasmanian Land Conservancy is doing. It is a large organisation and it is doing some fantastic work. (Time expired)