Goulburn Fundraising Activities - Private Members Statement

Ms PRU GOWARD (Goulburn—Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women) [12.13 p.m.]: To coin an oft used phrase: spring has surely sprung across New South Wales. The final day of winter left with a sharp snap of icy winds and snow on the high ground. In fact, there was snow in my back garden. The days are starting to get noticeably longer, blossoms are drifting from the almond and cherry trees and the daffodils are brightening up our gardens. My electorate is noted for its four distinct seasons and spring means gardens bloom and lambs, calves and foals are evident in the paddocks. As we cast off the shackles of winter we turn our attention to one of Goulburn electorate's greatest fortes: fundraising.

The window of my electorate office provides a much pored over community noticeboard. During the winter months it is a little depleted, as people prefer to stay home on the cold days and long nights; but spring tells a different tale. The district understands the importance of community. We know our neighbours and the people down the street and we are keen to support fundraising events and to look after our own. Not only do these events raise funds for a number of interest groups, they also are wonderful for building human capital within the community.

Whether it is the mums and dads at the school canteen or kids' sporting venue, or the committees formed by committed individuals organising balls and dinners, these events bring together teams of people who forge lifetime friendships in the process of supporting their community. A dinner at the Annesley ballroom in Bowral, which was held last weekend in support of the proposed Southern Highlands Botanic Garden, was one such event. My husband, David, and I were delighted to attend. The proposed garden will breathe life into a scruffy paddock on the outskirts of town bordered by the suburbs of old Bowral, Burradoo and East Bowral and will create a venue for the study, promotion and enjoyment of gardens for the local community and for visitors to our shire.

The not-for-profit voluntary association employs no staff and relies entirely on charitable donations. To this end it has established the Friends of the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens, which now boasts around 500 members. The community enthusiasm last Saturday night was palpable. The guest speaker was David Mabberly, Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. He gave a very interesting talk on the history of botanic gardens, telling the story of British exploration teams which always included a botanist who would collect specimens and then introduce any new species to European society. Thousands of new species were introduced to European society in that way. We only have to look at our own history and Joseph Banks's contribution to botany dating back to Cook's first voyage in order to demonstrate community interest in Australian plant life.

The Southern Highlands Botanic Garden will showcase a mix of native and exotic trees that will highlight four distinct seasons in a cold climate. To represent the natural woodland that was endemic to the area the garden will also include a shale woodland. The site will utilise a natural water course to form a chain of ponds to be known as the Ponds of Reflection. The ponds also will assist migratory birds. A particular reference will be made in the design to two women, Louisa Atkinson and Janet Cosh, who made a notable contribution to the knowledge of local flora. Louisa Atkinson, from nearby Oldbury in Sutton Forest, collected and illustrated local flora back in the nineteenth century, the majority of which are now held by the State Library of New South Wales. Her granddaughter Janet Cosh has continued the tradition and provided the resources to establish the herbarium at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens.

With such enthusiastic support from the local community and funding grants from all levels of government, the development of the garden is racing ahead with the grand opening optimistically scheduled for December 2013—coinciding with the Bowral sesquicentenary. I acknowledge and congratulate the members of the executive committee on their commitment to the project despite numerous obstacles to its progress. Recently Charlotte Webb was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community, in particular, the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens. I congratulate her on her leadership of this project. Ms Webb put together a capable committee consisting of Ross Stone, Jacqui Page, Jan Edwards, David Cummins, Geoff McBean, David Ross and Chris Webb. The Friends of the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens committee is ably led by Ted Duncan. It is amazing how the same names keep appearing on different committee executives, which goes to prove that if you want a job done ask a busy person. The Goulburn Wetlands Project is another ambitious landscaping project in Goulburn. As an inaugural member of Friends and Residents of Goulburn Swamplands—FROGS—I am looking forward to joining my fellow members in early October to start planting out this exciting project.

Pru Goward

Member for Goulburn

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Authorised by Pru Goward, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000