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Australia celebrates Wattle Day

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After almost 80 years of public calls for Australia to better recognise the wattle, the Government has now acted, with the Minister for Administrative Services, Senator Nick Bolkus, and the Environment Minister, Mrs Ros Kelly, announcing 1 September as the first official National Wattle Day.

Speaking at the National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, the Ministers urged local communities, schools and families to celebrate National-Wattle Day and to plant wattles for the sake of the environment as well as to honour their place in Australia’s history and culture.

Senator Bolkus said the new national day was proclaimed by the Governor-General after campaigns by individuals, botanical groups and school children over a number of decades.

"All State and Territory Governments have given their support, and the Federal Government is acting to make wattle seeds available to Australians who want them to cultivate and plant.

"NSW has traditionally celebrated Wattle Day on 1 August each year but will join in with the rest of Australia next year for a truly national celebration from today.

Mrs Kelly said National Wattle Day will help ’green and gold' Australia - with the emphasis on planting the right wattle in the right place.

"Wattles are an important species in landcare programs and wattle seeds are gaining a reputation as nutritious 'bush tucker', because they are rich in protein, carbohydrate and fat. The CSIRQ has been looking at the wattle as a potential food source in arid- countries," she said.

Senator Bolkus said there was a long history of celebrating Wattle Day in Australia.

"Unfortunately those celebrations were not co-ordinated and meant the recognition of the wattle was fragmented.

"Wattle was included in Australia's Coat of Arms in 1912 and the Wattle Day League dates back to 1913. The Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) - one of 760 species - was eventually proclaimed Australia's floral emblem in 1988," he said.

Senator Bolkus said the staff of the Department of Administrative Services were volunteering to plant hundreds of wattle trees at its properties around Australia today. "Asset Services alone will be planting about 200 wattles."

"As well as being a celebration, their action will help reduce soil degradation at some sites.

Senator Bolkus said that anyone wanting to plant wattle should write to their local member of Federal Parliament who would be able to provide wattle seeds as part of the constituent request program.

Media Inquiries: Rosemary Mullaly (06) 277 7600 (Sen. Bolkus's office) Game Hutchinson (06) 277 7640 (Sen. Kelly's office) 1 September, 1992.