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Community should take over Currumbin bird sanctuary.

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Senator John Cherry Australian Democrats Senator for Queensland

October 9, 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/722

Community should take over Currumbin Bird Sanctuary The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary should be handed over to a community foundation rather than left with the cash-strapped National Trust to ensure that surpluses continue to be spent on nature conservation, the Senate was told last night.

Australian Democrats’ Queensland Senator John Cherry told the Senate that while the National Trust continued to run deficits and the Sanctuary runs surpluses, the pressure to allow the Trust to use the resources of the Sanctuary for other purposes contrary to the intent of Alex Griffith’s Deed of Gift would continue.

“Given the financial problems of the National Trust, the pressure to find a way to transfer some part of the revenues from the Sanctuary into its core operations will continue. It has been a source of tension for most of the 28 years the Trust has held the Sanctuary,” Senator Cherry told the Senate.

“The problem is that the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary Act, an Act of the Bjelke-Petersen Government, is so loosely worded, you can drive a truck through it.

“I think the time has come to ask whether the National Trust and the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary would both be better off separated one from the other.

“The National Trust would then focus on its core business of built heritage, while the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary would be entirely independent and free to plough its surpluses back into its own activities.

“The Currumbin Bird Sanctuary Act does need an overhaul. I think it is time that the Queensland Government and the Gold Coast Community investigated thoroughly taking the National Trust out of the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary and replacing it with a community-based foundation that holds truer to the vision of its gentle founder, Alec Griffith,” he said.

On Saturday, Senator Cherry spoke with over 300 local resident at a Tugun protest against the Trust’s proposals to amend the Act to allow the Sanctuary to become a core Trust property, allowing it to dispose of part of its property and utilise its surpluses.

“Residents were angry with the cavalier approach that the National Trust appears to be taking to the objectives of the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. As the Gold Coast chokes under the haze of poorly planned urban development, its few green belts are becoming more and more important,” Senator Cherry said.

“I note that the National Trust has convened a community meeting at Currumbin on October 30 to discuss its plans, and I hope this idea gets on the agenda. The working group set up by GECKO following the weekend community meeting also, I understand will be investigating this option among others,” he said.

For further information or a copy of the speech: James Lantry 0412 695 173