Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 715..
MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
MS TUCKER (10.32): I present the Nature Conservation (Amendment) Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MS TUCKER: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, the Nature Conservation Act contains provisions for the appointment of a Conservator of Flora and Fauna who is basically the chief conservation officer in the ACT. The conservator is responsible for some key tasks under the Act - for example, preparing and maintaining a nature conservation strategy for the ACT, preparing action plans for the protection of endangered species, and the issuing of licences for various activities that affect native flora and fauna in the ACT and for activities within nature reserves.
The conservator also has an important role under the Land (Planning and Environment) Act. The conservator must be consulted over variations to the Territory Plan to ensure that nature conservation principles are taken into account. The conservator can also recommend variations to the Territory Plan to identify land as public land, such as for nature reserves or public open space, and is responsible for the preparation of management plans for public land in the ACT.
Obviously the conservator has staff to assist in these duties. The ACT Parks and Conservation Service is established under the Act to assist the conservator in carrying out his or her duties. However, as the statutory office holder, the conservator carries significant personal responsibility for ensuring that the natural environment of the ACT is protected for future generations.
Mr Speaker, it has been a concern of the environment movement for some time that the advice being given by the conservator to government on nature conservation issues has not been frank and fearless on behalf of the environment but has been compromised by political imperatives. There is a public perception that the conservator has been making