Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (19:45): In August 1998 the Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area was declared. It was the first one in Australia. It’s in the Gammon Ranges, or near that, in the northern Flinders Ranges, near Nepabunna. I went there two years ago for a celebration of the 20th anniversary. In 2015 another Indigenous protected area was declared in South Australia. It was Wardang Island, just off the west coast of Yorke Peninsula, off Port Victoria, very near the Point Pearce Aboriginal homeland there. In 2017, after it was declared, the Commonwealth invested half a million dollars there in revegetation, not only for the island but for the coastal strip that is also part of that protected area. It’s a beautiful place. It is coastal saltmarsh bordered by tidal flats with shallow seagrass, providing a number of important spawning areas for fish species. And the island is home to Yindala, a little penguin colony, and several migratory bird species.
I had the opportunity to visit Wardang Island last Friday with the Premier, Steven Marshall, who is a regular visitor to Grey, and it was very good to have him on our patch again, with Fraser Ellis, the state member for Narungga. His seat is of course named after the Narungga nation, who are the responsible people for the Indigenous protected area that I’m talking about, Wardang Island. We also had the South Australian Indigenous commissioner, Roger Thomas, on board and a number of other people. We were welcomed to the island by Eddie Newchurch, who is the chairman of the Point Pearce community, and his deputy, Lyle Sansbury. We travelled over to the island on a magnificent new barge which has been funded by the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. That’s capable of taking a vehicle over there.
The Commonwealth has just invested $2.6 million in removing old asbestos dwellings that were on the island. They were built by a mining company back in the forties, or perhaps even earlier than that, who was mining flux for the BHP steelmaking smelters in Whyalla. They’d fallen into very poor repair. The Indigenous rangers had been using them. They were full of asbestos. We’ve had McMahon contractors over on the island for the five months it has taken to clean all that up. Jobs have been provided to those Indigenous rangers through that program. In fact, David McMahon told us that 59 per cent of the people employed on the project were Indigenous. It’s a very exciting time, because now we’re moving ahead and building some new accommodation on the island for the rangers. It is hoped that in future they can build the tourism potential of Wardang Island, which previously, I might point out to the chamber, probably came to Australian attention because it was where the calicivirus escaped from. Wardang Island was quite topical here around 10 or a dozen years ago, when calicivirus escaped. What a great thing that has been for the environment of Australia.
Putting that to one side, already an existing building there has been renovated in very fine order to provide meeting rooms and an office for the rangers while they’re on the island. They are looking to develop new economic outcomes. It was a beautiful day when we went out there, I have to say. The beaches around that part of Yorke Peninsula are magnificent, as they are pretty much right across the coastline of Grey and on Wardang Island itself. It is the hope of the local people that they can build some accommodation there so that they will be able to invite the tourism sector in. There’s a lot of work to be done out there yet. The place has got a fairly heavy infestation of boxthorn, and the Indigenous rangers will be working on getting rid of those weed pests and also the mammal pests which exist on the island—the associated cats, foxes and whatever else might be out there at the moment. I don’t know that there are too many rabbits left because the calicivirus did, at least, take care of them at the time.
One way or another, it’s an exciting time for the Narungga people to be able to utilise this asset that is now in their care as an Indigenous protected area. It has become part of the national park line around Australia, but it is managed by the Indigenous rangers. I wish them very well, I thank them for their welcome and I really enjoyed the visit.