House debates

Monday, 29 May 2017


Central Coast: Environment

7:36 pm

Photo of Lucy WicksLucy Wicks (Robertson, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Central Coast is one of the most beautiful places to live and work, and one of the many reasons that families love our region is our incredible local environment. Whether it is our beautiful beaches Macmasters Beach, Killcare or Terrigal, or picturesque national parks like Bouddi, our local environment is a big part of what makes the Central Coast such an amazing place to call home.

I recently had the chance to meet Milo the koala while at Kariong. Milo, who lives at the Australian Reptile Park, is an important reminder of how precious our koalas are but also how rare they have become on the Central Coast. Local environment advocate Jake Cassar joined us near Bambara Road at Kariong to discuss fears of a threat to the local koala population. Recent reports suggest that the koala population in our region is under threat. The Minister for the Environment and Energy has advised me that the Australian government is working closely with state and territory partners to prepare a recovery plan for the nationally listed koala population of New South Wales.

After meeting Milo and chatting with Jake Cassar, I also wrote to the newly appointed Threatened Species Commissioner to find what more can be done to assist koala populations on the Central Coast. Since the appointment of the Threatened Species Commissioner in June 2014, the government has mobilised more than $211 million for projects that support and protect our threatened species. This includes the Threatened Species Recovery Fund, recently launched by the Minister for the Environment and Energy. The fund will help bring government and the community together to support threatened and endangered native species. I actively encourage local community organisations to apply for the grant to support projects that align with the targets and objectives of the Threatened Species Strategy. Applications are open until 15 June, with more information available online at the National Landcare Program website.

Across Australia there are also a number of Green Army projects making a real difference to the environment and delivering positive outcomes for participants and their local communities. I am pleased to say that we are delivering on our election commitments for the first of three Green Army projects set to start within the next few weeks. The project will identify, survey and monitor the green and golden bell frog populations at Avoca Lagoon and Davistown as well as undertake restoration action to improve the local habitat. I am really looking forward to meeting members of the Green Army groups in the coming weeks as they take on this important work.

It is not just the Green Army projects that are supporting the local environment on the Central Coast. Our $2.2 million Local Environment Plan for Robertson, announced during the recent 2016 federal election, is one of the most comprehensive environment strategies the Central Coast has seen. The plan is delivering a major boost to surf lifesaving clubs through the Solar Communities program. It is also helping the outstanding Graham 'Jono' Johnston and his team at Clean4shore continue to keep our beaches and our waterways clean. As well as these projects, it is helping to deliver a long-awaited boardwalk at Springfield. The boardwalk has been a dream of Chertsey Primary School and many local residents for years. To be constructed between Willow Road and Balfour Close, the Springfield Residents Association says it will enhance the area and provide a safe walkway for local students and families while also protecting local flora and fauna. This project, an important projects, is already moving forward, with the Central Coast Council having released initial concept designs earlier this year and local residents able to share their thoughts on the proposed design.

Finally, our local environment plan for Robertson is set to kick-start stage 1 of the upgrade to the very important 5 Lands Walk, which will include a steel bridge and vital improvements to this track. The 5 Lands walk has become a staple on the Central Coast calendar. The walk connects us to the land, celebrating our Indigenous heritage and multicultural community. The 10-kilometre route follows the coastline through the five lands, from McMasters Beach to Copacabana, Avoca Beach, North Avoca through to Terrigal Beach. Tens of thousands of visitors and residents take part in the walk, with the event growing more and more each year.

The popularity of the event means that upgrades to the track need to take place. I am very pleased that this government's commitment to our local environment will kick-start stage 1 of the walk's upgrade. I am looking forward to attending the walk once again on 24 June, and I certainly encourage local families to join. I know that a few seasons ago we were actually able to spot whales along our local beaches as we were on the walk. It really is an incredible sight to behold.

May I also pay tribute to Con Ryan and the whole team who are involved in the 5 Lands Walk, as well as the hundreds of volunteers who make this event possible year after year.