I also rise to speak on the motion introduced to this House by the member for Gippsland. I note that the member for Gippsland is one of the true champions of environmental issues in this place and he comes from a practical background rather than some sort of philosophical position.
It is important to note that the Landcare groups across Australia, especially the ones in the electorate of Parkes, are the real environmentalists in this country. They are the people who get their hands in the dirt. They put their own money, their own investment and their own time to work together to improve the overall environmental health of the environments in which they live. It is important to note that the environment of Western New South Wales, the environment in the Parkes electorate, is in a healthier, more sustainable position than it was 40 or 50 years ago. The people in the Parkes electorate have done a wonderful job in caring for the environment in which they live.
There are many Landcare groups in the Parkes electorate and they play a very important part. I will mention a couple. The Central West Catchment Management Authority covers an area of approximately 83,000 square kilometres and includes a number of individual Landcare groups. The Little River Landcare Group are probably the most famous of those. They are very well known for the innovative way in which they have undertaken natural resource management across their region. The group are committed to the vision of ‘vibrant communities and healthy landscapes’ and the subsequent mission to work with the community to converse and manage the catchment’s natural resources. In order to achieve this vision the Central West CMA strongly advocates the value of increasing the community’s capacity to engage in natural resource management activities. To work towards this mission the CMA has carried out four major themes: land, water, biodiversity, and people and communities. Time does not permit me to go into all the individual programs that the CMA has in the Central West area. Needless to say, they are very well regarded. They are finding it increasingly difficult with the restrictions that this government has placed upon them with the reduction in funding but are battling on regardless.
Another of my Landcare groups is the Buckwaroon Catchment Landcare Group in the Cobar region. They have come up with a very innovative model for which they are now trying to get funding. This model works in conjunction with the property management under the property vegetation plans where, under strict guidelines, the farmers clear the understorey, the woody reeds and the regrowth across their properties, leaving just the larger trees and restoring what is basically a woody wasteland into a productive and healthy environment. One of the problems with this was that the vegetation that was removed was just burned, with no real benefit to anyone. They have a proposal to use this biomass-and the tonnage is significant-to generate electricity in small, individual, freestanding generation plants. Here this waste is chipped and fed into the plant using a system of pyrolysis to generate heat and electricity. This would be ideal to work in conjunction with the mining activities that are happening in the far west of New South Wales where they are a long way from the grid and might be on the end of a delivery line-this model would deliver quite a substantial amount of electricity onsite. It would have not only economic benefits but also the environmental benefit of using that biomass that comes from regenerating the grasslands in that western region.
I conclude by endorsing the work that the member for Gippsland has done in introducing this motion into the House, and I wholeheartedly support it.