Parks and Crown Land Legislation Amendment Bill 2017

It is with great pleasure I join the debate on the Parks and Crown Land Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. The first part of this bill is to deliver on the Andrews government election commitment to incorporate the Anglesea Heath into the Great Otway National Park. As has been said by the Premier and by many ministers in this place, we are a government that is about keeping our election commitments. Whether it is environment, whether it is infrastructure, whether it is education or whether it is health, we are absolutely committed to keeping our election commitments.

I was actually in Anglesea about three or four weeks ago. I have got family members who live down there, and it is always a beautiful, beautiful place to go to. It is really relaxing. I had a lovely lunch there. Even in winter those windswept shores and that gorgeous heath —

Mr Pearson — Did you take the Danavan there?

Ms GREEN — No, I did not take the Danavan this time, member for Essendon.

It truly is a magnificent place, and I have cousins there who run Greenie’s Campers. They obviously, with their name, are related to me. I think that this addition will be of great benefit to tourism businesses around Anglesea and also to the amazing volunteers who have worked so hard over such a long period of time. I know that they very much welcome this addition to the park. It is welcomed by them, and it is welcomed by the Victorian National Parks Association and the Australian Conservation Foundation. They have worked hard on this change since the sad closure of the Alcoa business in Anglesea.

Other parts of the bill are changing some names of some parks — in particular one park I know quite well, having spent a lot of time there. We always used to go there on school camps — I went to school in Warrnambool, for those who do not know — and one of the school camps we used to go to was at Mount Eccles National Park. From now on it will no longer be known as Mount Eccles National Park. For some time it has been described as Budj Bim National Park, and it is an absolute jewel in the crown in our Indigenous history. It is the oldest living human civilisation in the world, and there is enormous evidence of that and the way the Gunditjmara people lived a very long time ago. Many people do not know that the remains of stone houses of the Gunditjmara clan down there are actually older than Stonehenge. Stonehenge is something that is known all over the world, but we here in Victoria have the Gunditjmara people, and the remnants of their stone housing and their aquaculture in eel farming dates back to before Stonehenge.

Not only is this a recognition of the longstanding connection to country of the Gunditjmara, but it will be absolutely central to the tourism offer in nature-based tourism, culture-based tourism and Indigenous tourism in this state, particularly in the west of the state, for a long time to come. I sit on the Minister for Tourism and Major Events’s ministerial advisory committee on the visitor economy, and this is one of the areas that we have definitely identified for growth. Worldwide the thing that really get tourists going to locations and coming back is not the endless shopping malls. It is not the endless chains of stores, the ubiquitous Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, you name it — insert commercial name here. Particularly in retail and clothes shopping there is just more and more sameness worldwide. The point of difference for every country, and particularly countries like ours and states like ours, is the story of our Indigenous people and the way we live our lives. Budj Bim will be absolutely pivotal to that, and I am so glad that our government and the national government have supported the World Heritage listing of Budj Bim. In the electorate of Buninyong, on the outskirts of Ballarat, the Canadian National Park has been renamed the Woowookarung Regional Park. This connection to country and cooperation with the local Indigenous people is a fulfilment of yet another of our election commitments.

There are also other additions to national parks across the state. There is a small change around the Warrandyte State Park near Warrandyte Bridge. I had the privilege of representing that area up until the last election. I think people are quite aware of many of our famous parks, whether they are along the Great Ocean Road, in the Grampians or in the High Country. We have magnificent national and state parks in the greater Port Phillip region. In the electorate that I represent, the Yan Yean electorate, the spine of my electorate is the Plenty River and the Plenty Gorge Park. I know you, Speaker, have some of that in your electorate as well; it is something that we share. It is also something that the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change shares.

I know the developers who have built new communities along the corridor, particularly around Mernda, Doreen and South Morang, are now saying that that is the jewel in the crown of new estates in Victoria. It is a point of difference for those new suburbs to have this established state park. You have some of the greatest biodiversity values in the Southern Hemisphere in the Plenty Gorge Park. I hope that one day we will have walking and cycling paths there — they are coming as part of Mernda rail — and I would hope that they are as iconic as those that go along the Yarra.

In addition to that park we also have the Kinglake National Park, which runs along the top of my electorate. Until the last redistribution I had the Warrandyte State Park going along the southern boundary of my electorate and then the Craigieburn grasslands to the west. We have some magnificent parks, particularly in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. There are other park assets in the west and in the south-east, like Lysterfield Park. This really is something that I think would have had a significant impact on why last week Melbourne was once again announced the world’s most livable city. Having those magnificent parks is crucial to that livability.

Also as part of the bill there is the addition of the Monster Meeting site to the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. There is also the excision of 2 hectares from the Otway Forest Park to be added to the Great Otway National Park. The Monster Meeting site is very significant. It is near Chewton. It has outstanding cultural significance related to the Gold Rush era. It is also of potential World Heritage significance. I had the privilege of opening a conference there a few months back in my role as Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism and Major Events. I actually put forward the case of Victoria’s gold digging areas across, I think, eight or nine local government areas in Victoria — it may even be more; that is just off the top of my scone — and why there is great merit in those areas. It is not just because of the Monster Meeting site but also because they include some of the most intact gold diggings in the world, more significant than anything in Canada or the US. I think anyone who has been to Cornwall would know — I have not yet, but I would love to; I am a great fan of Poldark, the ABC series — that that beautiful area of coalmining has been turned into a World Heritage area.

We have a great future in Victoria with our parks. These additions to our national parks will be, I think, very much welcomed across the community. I am pleased to hear that the opposition is not opposing this bill. Labor has always been the party that supports our national parks and absolutely resourcing them, and I am glad that the minister has been able to redress some of the cuts that occurred under the previous administration. I commend the bill to the house.