By Matt Kean
Every month I enjoy reading the Galston, Glenorie & Hills Community News to find out what is happening in our local area. We have some amazing groups from the Men’s Shed to the Rural Fire Services to our local sporting clubs, all filled with dedicated volunteers giving back to our community. I was pleased to be able to acknowledge in Parliament the hard work of one of those groups, the Country Women’s Association of Galston. I read they had been lending a helping hand by offering a resume services for those looking for work. It is grassroots initiatives like this that make a huge difference to those doing it tough in our community. Thank you Galston CWA!
Last month we saw the NorthConnex tunnel open, which will take up to 5,000 trucks a day off Pennant Hills Road. As we all know this was one of the most congested and worst roads in the state, which would have a flow-on effect to many local streets. It has a capacity to take 100,000 vehicles a day and with two lanes and a breakdown lane it has been future proofed with a capacity for three lanes. If you have had the opportunity to drive through you will have seen the innovative lighting which is an Australian first. It is also Australia’s deepest tunnel and has taken 17,000 people and more than 18.5 million hours to complete.
As Minister for Environment I have also followed through on my commitment to expand our National Parks estate by 200,000 hectares.
Permanently reserving national parks is the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation in NSW and I have been able to follow through on my commitment in less than a year adding a total of 202,669 hectares to our estate.
Some of the latest additions include:
• Narriearra Caryapundy Swamp National Park – 153,682 hectares
• Capertee National Park addition – 1,057 hectares
• Maria National Park addition – 66 hectares
• Mungo National Park addition (TSR) – 7,074 hectares
• Sturt National Park addition (TSR) – 17,479 hectares
The additions to Capertee National Park near Lithgow will increase protection for the Great Eastern Ranges wildlife corridor and a globally significant bird breeding area, including habitat for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater. While the additions to Maria National Park will protect critical koala habitat on the State’s mid-north coast.
We have worked closely with the local community, farmers and stakeholder groups to reserve these unused connective links across eight national parks in the State’s west and ensure the natural and cultural values they contain will be protected in perpetuity.
As we head to the end of the year I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas. It has certainly been a challenging year and one we will never forget.
Thank you for your support in 2020 and I will continue to work for our community as we head into 2021.