Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I recently travelled to Victoria's native forests of the Yarra Ranges and Central Highlands, the source of Prahran's drinking water and the Yarra River and home of the Leadbeater's possum, Victoria's faunal emblem.
These forests are an incredible asset to our state — rich in biodiversity, the source of our water, a carbon store and full of economic potential in tourism, conservation, science and research. These precious mountain ash forests are being locked up for a logging industry that is propped up by the taxpayer and cut down with the devastating method of clear-fell logging, only to be pulped and turned into paper and other disposable products. The continued logging is reducing water in our catchments, threatening species and putting the ecological system on the verge of collapse, and it is creating a greater bushfire risk with hotter, faster fires occurring near towns without the natural firebreaks of the rainforest.
If this state is fair dinkum about saving the Leadbeater's possum, protecting our environment, taking action on climate change and ensuring water security and economic growth in rural Victoria, we should create a Great Forest National Park, a national park for everyone on Melbourne's doorstep. I would like to thank our hosts and everyone who joined us on our visit for their hospitality, knowledge and dedication, including Sarah Rees, Adam Menary, Steve Meacher, Dr Chris Taylor, Stephen Powell and Rebecca Temple.