I visited Western Sydney today to discuss the possibilities of Manager Aquifer Recharging to improve Sydney's water security in a more sustaniable and cost-effective manner expensive options such as desalination and new dam construction. I wish Penrith Council all the best in exploring this exciting process.
I visited Maitland and Tamworth today to discuss the future of Landcare. Landcare is a wonderful movement that links together all parts of the community to improve our local environments. It's an important orgnisation because it connects farmers, communities, experts, government, and concerned citizens. Changes to the structure of federal grants through Caring for Country by Minister Garrett have undermined many local landcares in rural and regional NSW. State Labor has ignored this issues, preferring Landcare to suffer than to criticise the Rudd Labor Government.
Due to Labor's incompetence, ten's of thousands of tonnes of useful organic material is being stored and some being forced into landfill. Labor has inappropriately changed the criteria for reuse of useful organic material and left the waste sector in the lurch. Today I visited Penrith and surrounds to see an Advanced Waste Facility whose output should be going to agriculture and mine and landscape remediation, but is instead piling up without any resolution in sight.
Another day, another environment minister! This time, Frank Sartor has been promoted to replace John Robertson, following his failed attempt to become the Premier to replace Nathan Rees. This is now the fifth environment Minister that NSW has had since the last election. It's no wonder that our environmental benchmarks are decliing when no minister has had the time or will to truly address systematic issues of sustainability.
I visited Bronte Surf Club with Mayor Sally Betts of Waverley to see the fantastic work done by Bronte Surf Club to become the first carbon neutral surf club in the world. It's a testament to the dedicated people who have driven this project that it has been acheived.
I have had the joy of spending today and yesterday in Camden and its surrounds. On Friday, I met with Mayor Chris Patterson and a local hero, Pam Browne, who has been campaigning for the protection of local heritage. The south-west of the Sydney basin has some of the most at-risk heritage in the State, and I highlighted how the Coalition's heritage policy will do wonders for the region. I also visited Leafs Gully to raise my concerns about how Phil Costa has failed to stand up for the health of the people of his electorate in the matter of the Leafs Gully power station. On Saturday I was there for the State Council of the Liberal Party of NSW - and I enjoyed seeing the beautiful heritage of Camden another time.
Yesterday and today I visited the South Coast with Gareth Ward, Deputy Mayor of Shoalhaven Council. The main two issues of my visit were the future sustainbility of the South Coast, and the protection of its precious heritage. I held a community forum in Gerringong, saw the Council's sustainbility house, and met with Council. It was great to see the proactive engagement of the local community of the matter of wind power, especially when their local member, Matt Brown, doesn't even think they generate more energy that in takes to create them. I also communicated to locals that the Liberals' policy to abolish Part 3A of the planning system, and to move the Heritage Council out of the Minister for Planning's Hands and into the Environment Department. Such policies will let local communities have a greater say in the future of the areas they know best.
Monday I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Annual General
Meeting of the Friends of Ku-Ring-Gai Environment (FOKE). Also in
attendance was Jonathan O'Dea, the Member for Davidson. I spoke on the
inapprorpriate development in the Ku-Ring-Gai LGA, especially the
shredding of the canopy of remnant Sydney Blue Gum High Forest. For
those who don't know it, the story of the arrogrance and
short-sightedness of the NSW Labor government in Ku-Ring-Gai is not an
unusual one - it is the same for the many areas of NSW that have
received development which disregards an area's heritage, and the
opinion of local people. In this case, it's an inappropriate style of
urban consolidation in a heritage senstive ecosystem, the Sydney Blue
Gum High Forest. It was heart-warming to see the community spirit and
the passion of those in attendance. I also spoke on the matter in
parliament yesterday, and that speech is avaliable here.