Monday, 10 September 2012
Private Members' Business
National Landcare week
I am very pleased to join with so many colleagues to speak in this debate which marks, very importantly, National Landcare Week. There are not too many private members' motions that attract the number of speakers that this motion has tonight. I think that, in itself, is a very clear tribute to the Landcare movement and to the many thousands of volunteers who work so hard within their various Landcare groups. It is a testament to the way that Landcare has become a national institution. It is something that is instantly recognisable and it is something that is widely appreciated and celebrated throughout our country. Of course, there is no better time to do that than in National Landcare Week.
I want to make the point about the beginnings of Landcare. It is now in its third decade and continues to grow from strength to strength. It was kicked off in 1989 officially when Rick Farley of the National Farmers' Federation and Phillip Toyne of the Australian Conservation Foundation lobbied the Hawke Labor government to begin the Landcare program. They did it in a big way by announcing the Decade of Landcare Plan back in 1989. I mention that because Rick Farley was a much loved son of Capricornia. I am not sure if he actually grew up there but he spent many years working with the honourable Doug Everingham, who was in those days the member for Capricornia. Rick Farley and his contribution to agriculture and to our nation is very fondly remembered in Capricornia and, of course, right across Australia.
I also want to make mention of a terrific new innovation or initiative that we have in Capricornia. I have spoken in here many times about the Fitzroy Basin Association, which is the natural resource management body in Capricornia, looking after, as it does, the largest catchment on the east coast of Australia. The Fitzroy Basin Association coordinates lots of Landcare activities, but, very importantly, it has opened up an education centre called FLOW, which is right in the heart of Rockhampton's CBD. The idea of FLOW is really to get that message of land care, environmental management and stewardship to the broader community. I am sure we have heard throughout the debate how important natural resource management is considered to be by our farmers. They have the most direct involvement in it and have so much to bring to the job of protecting our natural environment here in Australia.
But, of course, it is not just farmers who should be taking up that message and that burden. The idea of FLOW, the education centre right there in East Street run by the Fitzroy Basin Association, is all about getting that message out. They tell me that, in just the few months they have been open, they have experienced enormous success in attracting many school groups and business groups into the centre. They tell me they have had 2,653 visitors already since the opening in March this year and they are expecting a great deal more interest during the school holidays, when they put on school holiday activities. This is all about getting the next generation of land carers to understand the role that we can all play in looking after our natural environment.
I mentioned FLOW because I have agreed to be a referee for the organisation in their nomination for the Regional Achievement and Community Awards being run in conjunction with the Queensland government and WIN, one of our local TV stations. I wish FLOW all the best as they seek the recognition they deserve in that award event. I wish the Landcare groups in my electorate all the best. I congratulate them on the work that they do and will continue to work with them to attract the funding that they need to run these very important projects.