World environment day speech in parliament

Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:58): Today, I would like to speak about World Environment Day. My community needs no excuse to share the hard work and commitment of green-thumbed residents and volunteers who work week in and week out in our fantastic gardens, national parks and reserves to compassionately help to conserve and enrich our natural environment.

I would like to take this opportunity to shine a light on some of the efforts recently seen in the electorate of Waite for the betterment of our local environment.

Green, leafy suburbs make my electorate a unique and beautiful place to live. We are truly blessed with so many areas of natural bushland, parks, gardens, reserves and protected heritage sites.

It appears almost each space is fortunate to have its own dedicated team of volunteers, be that the Belair National Park and the Friends of Old Government House, Wittunga Botanic Garden and the Friends of Sturt Gorge Recreation Park, Shepherds Hill Recreation Park and of course the Friends of Brownhill Creek, Waite Arboretum and their fantastic friends group and the work they do through the Waite Conservation Reserve, Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare or indeed the Blackwood Reconciliation Group.

There are so many dedicated landcare groups, schools, council staff, national park rangers and botanic gardeners who are regularly seen out amongst nature, planting native species, helping to eradicate feral pests (which are a huge issue, especially up in Belair National Park and the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park), cleaning up litter and volunteering as a local tour guides to promote the fantastic history of nature conservation in our community.

As the local MP, I have been proud to assist these groups and individuals not only by volunteering but also by securing major funding for our natural assets.

Most recently, we have seen a $3.5 million investment in the Sturt River Linear Park Trail, a collaboration between the state government, the City of Onkaparinga and the City of Mitcham, to bring this nature walk to life, connecting communities from Coromandel Valley and, hopefully one day, to Glenelg North, with a plan to eventually connect the Hills to the coast. I hope to see more opportunities to connect people and nature through further investment in the Open Spaces and Places for People Grants.

Belair National Park is one space that has received a lot of attention recently. From the planning of the old golf course to funding for weed control and wayfinding, there is so much happening in the park. Indeed, I would like to see some further improvements in this fantastic national park as well, especially around Playford Lake.

As I have mentioned in this place previously, the Minister for Environment and Water recently shared the good news about the happenings in the wonderful Wittunga Botanic Garden. I was glad to join with him and so many others in the community to officially celebrate the fruition of this important investment, which featured new native gardens, improvements to the lake, a viewing platform and a nature playground as well, which is so well used these days by the young people in our community.

Just two Sundays ago. I was doing the Blackwood Reconciliation Walk from the Blackwood roundabout to Karinya Reserve straight past Wittunga. At about 11.30am on the Sunday morning, the new nature play area was brimming with young kids everywhere having a great time. It was fantastic to see so many people using the Wittunga Botanic Garden.

Of course, there is Brownhill Creek Recreation Park and the rejuvenation of the Wirraparinga Loop Trail, and the clearing of woody weeds, native tree planting and the Kaurna seating and welcome place, as well as the ongoing engagement with Kaurna elders that Ron Bellchambers and the Brownhill Creek Association do. In fact, last Saturday I was going for a run up Brownhill Creek Road and there was Ron Bellchambers with a group of volunteers out there again doing their weeding for the Saturday morning.

The other big project happening there is the Kaurna shelter tree. That project will be completed in 2021 and moving on to stage 2, which will be looking at retention of the eroded creek bank with bluestone to safeguard the shelter tree and installing a Kaurna-carved balustrade that will allow for the viewing of that important birthing tree.

It is so important that, as a government, we work to invest in the environment in our communities and to continue to collaborate on projects that will rejuvenate and protect open space. As I have mentioned here so often, there is the Blackwood Action Group, the Rotary Club of Coromandel Valley, and the 20 Metre Trees project, which raised plenty of awareness about the importance of our environment, keeping our communities green and protecting the important tree canopy of my community.