Belair National Park

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (15:22): Today I rise to celebrate 2016 being the 125th anniversary of the Belair National Park and give thanks to all those who care for our beautiful park. I especially thank the Friends of the Belair National Park, Friends of the Old Government House and the local CFS brigades who keep the national park safe from fire each and every season. 

Belair National Park was the first national park to be proclaimed in South Australia and, indeed, this was only the second park to be proclaimed in Australia after the Royal National Park in New South Wales and was the sixth national park to be proclaimed in the world. With over 250,000 visitors each year for 125 years, Belair National Park has been a central part of South Australia, but it is the park that almost wasn't.

The land was originally used as a government farm to grow hay for police horses and other government livestock. It was also a summer home for South Australia's governors in the early part of settlement. By 1881 with the province of South Australia running out of money, something we are seeing again today, there was a proposal to sell off parts of the land to help keep South Australia solvent. Thankfully, strong opposition led to an act of parliament in 1883 prohibiting its sale.

Efforts to protect the area continued, including representations by the Royal Society of South Australia, and it was decided that the government farm be established as a public park. Created in 1891 as a national park, the settlement of South Australia at the time was only 55 years old and not even at that time was there a place in Europe or Asia that was home to a national park.

Since this time, the park has been a place for people to come together to celebrate special occasions and enjoy its beauty. In the early days, settlers would travel from Adelaide up the hill on the Belair steam train. Today visitors are spoiled for choice—able to travel by bus, car or train— although the train trip will not be any quicker than it was in the 1950s.

The 125th anniversary celebrations provide for an even greater opportunity for us to enjoy the Belair National Park. The official launch of the park was held on Sunday 13 March. It was a fantastic day and I encourage anyone who has not toured the park to do so. In May this year, you can take part in Grey Box Day or join an SA History Festival walk. You can also help build the state's biggest cubby town with the help of Nature Play South Australia. Free guided walks are available from April to October, with free entry on 11 September for the Belair open day and 3 December for Belair National Park's birthday party. I urge everyone to put a visit to the park on their must do list for 2016.

We are all indebted to the dedicated volunteers who work to preserve the buildings and natural surrounds of the park. As the member for Davenport, in which Belair National Park falls, I am very grateful for their efforts. Equally, I am concerned, as are a number of my constituents, that in 2015 the government failed to complete the prescribed burn-offs in the park prior to the bushfire season, and they are also concerned that deadwood and blackberries in the park pose a danger if a fire should threaten.

There are other concerns, too, that this government is not committed to maintaining the buildings in the park and preserving the park's history. The Belair National Park needs regular funding to preserve its building, control weeds and non-indigenous plants, and enable the fauna and flora to flourish. Last year's budget only made a small provision for the park, and I beg to ask the question: have we returned to the 1880s when the park was just seen as a drain on the public purse?

I certainly hope that this year's budget makes sufficient allowances to ensure the park can be maintained for future generations on this its 125th anniversary. The Belair National Park is an icon of Adelaide and indeed the Mitcham Hills. How many other cities in the world can boast that you can catch a train from the CBD and disembark 42 minutes later in a national park? The Belair National Park is a place of recreation and tranquillity for so many South Australians. I hope this government gives it a worthy birthday present in this year's budget, which is additional funding. Happy 125th anniversary to the Belair National Park.