16 March 2021


I want to briefly acknowledge quite a few people who attended the inaugural meeting of the Parliamentary Friends of Landcare.

Senator Perin Davey and I are honoured to be the co-chairs of this parliamentary friendship group and to have hosted here this evening outside in the gardens of Parliament House.

I want to acknowledge Uncle Wally Bell, a traditional custodian of the Ngunawal lands on which we meet. He is also a great member, a fond member, of ACT Landcare. I must say it was a very touching welcome to country by Uncle Wally. I really want to acknowledge him formally in the chamber this evening and to thank him very much for his contribution at tonight’s event.

We also had in attendance Minister Littleproud and Minister Ley, as well as shadow ministers Ms Collins and Ms Butler, along with the Chair of the National Landcare Network, Patrick O’Connor, and the CEO, Jim Adams, as well as the chair of Landcare Australia, Doug Humann AM, and CEO Shane Norrish. There were many members of boards of many Landcare networks and groups that attended this evening, mainly from the ACT but also from New South Wales and Victoria.

I really wanted to say thank you to the Landcare networkers that came from Victoria to enjoy the event and to get to know the other networkers in the friendship group. I’m sure there will be many, many more events to come.

Landcare in Australia is a very proud legacy of Bob Hawke, who established it with the purpose of bringing environmentalists and landholders together to improve biodiversity, build resilience in Australia’s food and farming systems and create stronger regional communities.

As a senator for Victoria, I also want to acknowledge the important place that my home state has in the Landcare story, with Landcare first evolving in Victoria through an initiative of a former premier, the late Joan Kirner, who was then Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands, and Heather Mitchell AM, the first female president of the Victorian Farmers Federation. I also want to acknowledge Tony Mahar from the National Farmers Federation, who was in attendance tonight. I know that he and the NFF are great supporters of Landcare.

In fact, before the Hawke Labor government established Landcare nationally, the very first Landcare group was launched in a very small town in central Victoria in 1986 through a collaboration between government, farmers and environmentalists which continues to endure to this day.

Over the past 30 years, Landcare has developed into one of Australia’s largest volunteer movements, with over 6,000 groups and 100,000 volunteers. That is just amazing. Well done to everyone involved in Landcare. The Landcare model has been so successful it has been adopted in over 20 countries around the world.

Nonetheless, Landcare’s greatest asset has always been its people—members of local groups throughout Australia who freely give up their time to advance the objectives of the movement. It’s these people we are here today to celebrate, and I especially want to acknowledge the members of the many Landcare groups who have been able to join us this evening.

What makes Landcare so special is the way it has been able to bring together stakeholders from all places—landholders, farmers, environmentalists, conservationists, scientists, those in industry and government, and, of course, our traditional custodians of the land. It is this unity which will be central to the movement, meeting the challenges that lay ahead of us all.

I want to again thank Senator Davey for her friendship and for asking me to join her in establishing the friendship group.