Mr DULUK (Davenport) (11:46): I begin by putting on the record my congratulations to the member for Bright on his hard work in this policy development on this side of the house. I know that he will make a fantastic and very diligent minister for the environment in a future Liberal government. This is about the vision that we are seeing here on this side of the house, and this is how you make good policy that is in the public interest because you do what is right for the people of South Australia. As I said, I would like to make a few comments about the importance of open space and the importance of open space in providing liveable communities in South Australia.
Open space provides opportunities for formal and informal sport, recreation, as well as cultural endeavours. Open space helps preserve our natural environment and provides much-needed habitat for wildlife. An open space in close proximity to urban centres increases the livability and enhances property values in those centres. They also provide environmental educational opportunities, as well as mental health and physical benefits that impact positively on health care and healthcare costs. Open spaces play an important role as the lungs of our communities that offset, of course, air pollution.
Advantages come from open space. Creating a policy framework that looks at capturing open space is so important, but it has been lacking for the last 15 years from this Labor government. In fact, their policy has been quite the opposite. Their policy has been to encroach on open space, create congested living for residents of South Australia and to see urban sprawl continue unabated. Communities that take the time to care for their open spaces and natural areas I believe find a reciprocal benefit that goes with it. Their open spaces lead them to a better way of life. In my own community, where there is so much open space around Mitcham and the Mitcham Hills, the number of people you see walking through the national parks and reserves, participating in Trees For Life and Landcare, all enhance the value of the community and people's outlook on their community.
The Liberal Party appreciates the importance of protecting open space. We understand that these areas must be preserved for future generations, and we recognise that conservation is an investment in the wellbeing of our community. That is why we are conservative, and conservatives believe in conservation. Unfortunately, those opposite do not always share this view. As I stated earlier, those opposite have overseen a rapid decline in open spaces throughout metropolitan Adelaide, a result of their preoccupation with selling anything that is not nailed down to pay for the damage of 15 years of economic mismanagement.
That is what it is all about: it is about selling land to pay the interest on the debt. That is what we are seeing at Daw Park and the Repat and the desire to sell that land. We have seen it across the board. We even saw, several years ago, this government looking in a pre-budget bid in about 2010 to privatise the Wittunga Botanical Gardens—an absolute shame. That was canvassed by those opposite. This government loves to sell because it does not know how to create.
This Labor government have repeatedly demonstrated their complete disdain for the importance of native understorey in our urban ecosystem. A great example of this at the moment is the Glenside development, one of the most telling examples. Eighty-three significant trees are the collateral damage in the Treasurer's desperate search for a few extra dollars to help his budget bottom line. The gaping hole along Greenhill Road is a constant reminder of our community's loss. The latest threat to our natural environment is the proposal to allow housing and retail development on the 208-hectare site at Glenthorne Farm.
Glenthorne Farm, as the member for Bright indicated, is an important environmental asset of considerable significance to southern Adelaide. It is a revegetation site and a corridor for wildlife. It is imperative that we protect it for future generations. That is why the deed of sale to the University of Adelaide in 2001 explicitly stated that the land will not be used for urban development. That is why the state Liberal Party has made a very firm commitment that we will return Glenthorne Farm into a national park, wrapping several other open spaces in the southern suburbs into one very large national park, a national park that is not only about conservation but also about recreation.
It is a flagship environmental commitment. We have a clear vision for the environment. We will protect our open space. The Glenthorne national park will bring together existing areas of conservation: the Hallett Cove Conservation Park and the Marino Conservation Park as well as the O'Halloran Hill Recreation Park, Happy Valley Reservoir and the Field River Valley. It will provide national park status to more than 15,000 hectares of open space, bigger than Belair National Park, which is in my electorate. That will provide public ownership of this space for the entire community to enjoy.
Wildlife and vegetation corridors will be given the support they need to survive. Extensive weed eradication and revegetation projects will be carried out, creating an urban forest that will be enjoyed for generations to come, and a recreational precinct will be created. I went out doorknocking through Happy Valley with Steve Murray, the Liberal candidate for Davenport, and Aaron Duff, the Liberal candidate for Hurtle Vale in Happy Valley on the other side of the reservoir. We talked to local constituents about the ability and desire for us to open up the Happy Valley Reservoir for recreational use.
The community think it is a wonderful idea, and so many people say, 'I don't know why we haven't thought of that before.' The Friends of Glenthorne Farm have been fighting to protect this area for more than 21 years for improved community access and activities. The Friends of Glenthorne Farm Community Vision 2015 reports details the many activities they hope may one day be realised on this new precinct, including a large-scale nature playground for families, picnic areas, walking and cycling trails linked to surrounding parks, produce markets, tourism attractions and much more.
We share their vision. We want to work with the community to deliver a vision for the communities that people live in, people and communities who want to enjoy their lifestyle, their Adelaide, their South Australia. The Friends work tirelessly so that future generations can enjoy open spaces that I believe we have for too long taken for granted. I certainly look forward to working with them as a member of the Liberal team to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect and revitalise this open space and turn it into an environmental and recreational precinct.
In the few moments that I have left, I would like to talk about some of the work done in my own community, particularly by the Friends of Belair National Park, including their president, Mark Pedlar, and Tina and Wayne Gallasch, who are on the committee, as well as all the other volunteers who do so much fantastic work in the Belair National Park. A couple of months ago I had the privilege of inviting the shadow environment minister, the member for Bright, to go on a walking tour of the park, which you can do every Tuesday and Sunday, to show him the great work that the Friends do, and to let the Friends know that we appreciate what they do for us. If it were not for the Friends of Belair National Park, the Friends of Brownhill Creek or any other reserves and nature parks across South Australia, the government and its agencies would not be able to fulfil its mandate for weed eradication, pest eradication and dealing with feral animals. We owe a debt of gratitude to the many volunteers who participate in the friends groups, who ensure that the national parks and reserves are maintained in as good condition as they can be, free of eradication.
Also, in recent weeks I had the pleasure of attending the final Green Army project graduation which was, of course, a federal government initiative and one which the federal member for Boothby championed in the 2016 campaign. The last Green Army initiative was in Brownhill Creek Reserve and it was fantastic to work with people like Ron Bellchambers and Professor Wayne Myers, who are so dedicated to the preservation of Brownhill Creek, to lift the whole reserve and to create a focus on the importance of Brownhill Creek to the Mitcham Hills community and the significant role it plays in Kaurna history.
The skills that the volunteers have achieved through the Green Army project have been fantastic. In the patch that they have been working on in Brownhill Creek, they have really lifted that whole reserve in the eradication of feral pests and weeds. As I said before, the work that our volunteers do across-the-board is to be commended and on this side of the house I thank all the volunteers and friends of all our parks and reserves across South Australia for their hard work and dedication.