Sustaining Landcare

20th September 2018

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (12:28): I too acknowledge the member for Tamworth and thank him for bringing this important matter of Landcare in New South Wales to the attention of the House. I also acknowledge Bev and Adrian from Landcare NSW as representatives of a magnificent organisation. I first became involved in the political process for only one reason: to address the decline in the natural environment where I lived. The area around Lake Macquarie was suffering greatly and we needed to take action locally. I cannot think of a better organisation to deal with issues locally while at the same time dealing with the broader problem of the degradation of our natural environment, including the impact and damage to rural production.

When I first became involved in the environmental movement, there were a lot of well-intentioned people and well-intentioned programs. The first program I was involved with was called LEAP, the Landcare Environmental Action Program. I was a director of Hunter LEAP. They were very well-intentioned, but as with many good thoughts they do not necessarily progress to achieve their goals. To see the substantial growth of Landcare and to see how effective it has been is something to behold. It has been my opinion through my role with Lake Macquarie City Council over many years—and there are still more than 200 Landcare groups throughout Lake Macquarie—that Landcare has been the most effective mobilisation of volunteers in New South Wales and, indeed, Australia.

Amazing practical experience and energy is being brought by locals to pay attention to and repair the local environment. An amazing level of expertise has also been developed. People who have taken their qualifications to a very high standard have improved our understanding of how to deal with the degradation that has occurred across New South Wales. There are other electorates that fit within the Lake Macquarie local government area under the umbrella of Lake Macquarie Landcare—for example, Wallsend, Charlestown, Swansea and Cessnock, to a degree. We have all benefited, as have our communities.

There are too many people in my area for me to name, but I do want to talk about John Hughson, who was mentioned by the member for Newcastle, because John Hughson was there from the beginning. He is one of the great inspirations for other people to get involved. It is about people being able to share information, lending support and bringing together like-minded people. In New South Wales we are getting much more for our environment from Landcare than any government or any other group would be able to or has been able to provide. Once again, I thank the member for Tamworth.

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