Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (22 September) . . Page.. 3549..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
I feel that, in a sense, that is an argument for our bill, which is where I raised my points in presenting a bill that asked government members and other members to refer in their explanatory statements to the consultation that they have done. Had I had access to that when this bill was tabled, I would have had a much clearer understanding and that misunderstanding would not have needed to excite the government.
It is interesting that some of the bodies that were consulted no longer exist. To me, it shows the importance of groups like LAPACs. There is nothing like that now. It is very difficult to consult local communities if they do not have a body. Some of those LAPACs were in areas where this bill will have particular application. That point needs to be made.
Finally on that issue, the concern that we had put was that it must go to the time over which these consultations had taken place. The concerns that were expressed to me were not so much that groups were not consulted; it was more to the effect that they had not been told the bill was coming on. I know that it is up to us all to tell our constituent organisations when the bill is coming up. Maybe it was not as big an issue as the government thought.
In case you have lost track of why I am standing up here, I want to reiterate how important it is to have an ecologist on the Tree Advisory Panel and that it would be a bad oversight not to set up questions about the environmental worthiness of this bill.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (12.14): The opposition will be supporting Dr Foskey's suite of amendments. Despite what has been said in this place by the government about the opposition's views on this legislation, it is not that we are opposed to tree protection; we are opposed to this version of tree protection. The most important part of the legislation, the bits that we are most concerned about, about maintaining the substance, is the register and the Tree Advisory Panel. It is very important those things are given a great deal of strength. A little later in the debate I will elaborate on those views, but these are very important amendments from Dr Foskey that should be supported by members.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra-Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs, and Acting Minister for Education and Training) (12.15): The government will not be supporting these particular amendments. Certainly an argument is well made that it could be appropriate that somebody with the sorts of skills that one imagines ecologists would have would be a member of the Tree Advisory Panel. Certainly there is nothing in the way in which the Tree Advisory Panel will be constituted that would prevent the minister appointing an ecologist. To the extent that the Tree Advisory Panel would require a person who has some expertise or background in the field of natural heritage, that would of course include an ecologist.
This is an issue that governments face every time a piece of legislation is introduced that provides in the body of the legislation for the establishment of a particular panel or advisory group. We are confronted by questions about the requisite suite of qualifications or expertise that should be represented on the particular advisory group, committee or panel, as in this case.