Thursday 28 August 2014

Hansard of the Legislative Council


Tamar Island Wetlands - Tourism Branding Project

Mr FINCH (Rosevears)- Mr President, I am not sure if you have ever used a singlefurrow, horsedrawn plough in your time with all those life experiences.

Mr PRESIDENT - Not lately.

Mr FINCH - I am not sure about the member for Western Tiers. He may have used one.

Mr Farrell - He used to pull one apparently.

Mr FINCH - He may have used one in his childhood. I have seen the pictures - I am talking about a singlefurrow, horsedrawn plough, member for Western Tiers. I reckon when you were pulling that, if you hit an obstacle it would knock you about somewhat. You see them sometimes at property entrance gates although they have largely disappeared now from farm clearance sales.

We have rather a good one in my electorate. Many years ago it was left leaning against an oak tree on Tamar Island. The tree grew around it and it is now firmly embedded in the tree trunk. It must be well over 100 years old, and is quite a sight to see. Thousands of people stop to look at it every year and there must be hundreds of photographs floating around with this stumpjump plough that the tree has grown around. No doubt there are numerous stories about why the plough was left leaning against the tree.

This is the type of narrative that the West Tamar Council is trying to weave into its tourism branding project which was the subject of my special interest speech last week. There is the story of Bruno the bull which I will come to shortly.

That plough was one of the many things to see on the fantastic wetlands boardwalk from near the West Tamar Highway out to Tamar Island. It is only a few hundred metres from the division of Windermere, from where you get the beautiful view of Rosevears. Tamar Island has been crown land since European settlement and up until the 1980s it was leased to private and public operators. It comprises 7 hectares of silt flats with a single rocky hillock, which has been a popular picnic spot since the 1890s.

In the 1980s, the state government bought the wetlands area around Tamar Island and incorporated it into the greater Tamar River Conservation Area, which stretches from St Leonards on the North Esk north to the Tamar Island wetlands. Those wetlands are an important habitat for many native animals and plants. They are the home of the threatened green and gold frog, just in case you were wondering where it got to. It is an excellent place to view birdlife, including black swans, egrets, cormorants, swamp harriers, ducks, purple swamphens, native hens, pelicans, gulls and herons.

There is an interpretation centre at the beginning of the 1.5-kilometre walk to the island and the island itself has more than 1 kilometre of tracks, picnic and gas barbecue facilities, and drinking water and toilet facilities, in case you are planning on visiting some time soon.

Apart from the plough in the oak tree, there are other tree plantings from more than 100 years ago. There is a dilapidated building there that dredger crews used to stay in overnight when they were dumping the silt from the upper Tamar, between Tamar Island and the Tamar's western shore.

The boardwalk over the wetlands, completed in 1994, was a very good jobs generator. But before visitors could be allowed on the island, they had to get rid of Bruno. Bruno was a very large red bull which was left to roam free on the island when other cattle were removed after it was handed back to the Parks and Wildlife Service by the lessee, Dr Dane Sutton. The bull, by now totally unused to humans, became something of a cause celebre. His lonely plight was reported by international news agencies and there was even a 'Save Bruno' petition in circulation. He is believed to have been taken very quietly off the island and resettled on a farm.

The information centre at the beginning of the boardwalk sits on 43 wooden piles, most of which are more than 18 metres deep because of silt collection in the Tamar. It is staffed entirely by 23 volunteers who contribute 5 000 hours a year. Without them, this great tourism attraction could not function as it does. Entry is by donation. School and community groups visit there. You can see the Gambusia holbrooki, which was introduced to eat the mosquito larvae. Unfortunately they eat native fish and green and gold tree frogs as well. Eradication attempts have reduced but not eradicated the Gambusia population. You can see the traps for the Gambusia as you go out to the interpretation centre.

I have yet to meet a visitor who has not been impressed by the ever-changing sky, the rushing tidal waters, the birdlife, and the embedded single-furrow plough at the Tamar Wetlands in my electorate of Rosevears.

Circular Head Council - Documentary on the Effects of the Drug Ice

[9.52 a.m.]

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, today I will talk about an issue I am sure is as much a matter of concern for all members in their electorates as it is to me: the increasing threat and prevalence of the drug ice in our communities. I will also talk about the positive action the Circular Head community is taking through a project of the Circular Head Council. It is funded through a program to tackle the use of ice in regional Australian communities. Tackling ice use head-on is often difficult to do proactively because of the connotations of dealing with a drug that is so dangerous.

I commend the Circular Head Council for making a documentary on the effects of ice in its community that could be distributed to other areas for their benefit and use. It will benefit the broader Tasmanian and Australian communities by creating discussion and awareness of this issue and working to remove the stigma and shame attached to users of the drug and their families. It will assist people to identify if a family member or friend is using ice, what they can do to help and where they can go to get help. Doctors, police, hospital staff and emergency service crews are among those interviewed, with drug and alcohol counsellors adding to the discussion.

It is often reported that drug use, and the use of ice in particular, is widespread across regional communities around Australia. Therefore, the Circular Head Council should be credited for tackling this issue in a proactive manner. It is going to take a huge amount of courage from all those involved. There are, and always will be, negative connotations about communities affected by drug use, and raising it publicly can potentially increase those negative perceptions and connotations. This project demonstrates that the Circular Head Council and its partners are acting as true leaders. They are forward-thinking, creative and courageous people and we need people like that working in local government in our regional communities.

What also impressed me about this project is that the young people in Circular Head have been made part of the solution. The council will receive support for the project through collaboration with the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation, Circular Head youth leaders and students from both high schools. It also impressed me that the council won a grant to support the project through a competitive process, which is no easy feat for a small council. The council was a successful applicant for one of 12 $10 000 grants from the 2014 FRRR - the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal - ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grant round.

For those who are not familiar with the foundation, FRRR aims to assist communities to build their social capital and economic resilience. This is achieved by engaging and providing resources for projects such as this one, which create the change that communities aspire to achieve.

The ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grant, in particular, is intended to help rural communities tackle the issues concerning young people across rural, regional and remote Australia. As a result, each of the organisations and the individuals involved should be congratulated on the work they are doing to tackle this issue. I look forward to seeing the results of this work, as well as observing the work in progress. I understand it will take eight to 10 months to complete.

I congratulate the Circular Head community on taking such a proactive and gutsy approach to problems that not only this community face but all communities face. I wish them all the best with the project and look forward to the production of a resource that will benefit many Tasmanians throughout their communities.