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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (18 August) . . Page.. 3866..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I thank, in particular, two members of my staff who had an enormous input into this bill-Malcolm Baalman, who worked on the bill at an early stage, and James Lennane who helped to bring it to fruition. I thank all those involved in consultations that were frank in their appraisals and supportive in their suggestions, including those relating to proposed amendments. I thank them most heartily because I think that helped to make this a better legislative package.

I look forward to seeing this bill implemented in the next Assembly. This is an opportunity for the ACT. If we are to make a difference we have to address the things that many members mentioned in their speeches-how to deal with those who have mental health problems, drug problems and socialising problems. If we do not do that in the rehabilitation phase whilst they are in prison they will simply re-offend and we, as a society, will have failed. I thank members for their support for the bill and I look forward to this bill becoming an act, if not quickly, certainly within 12 months from today.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Nature Conservation (Native Vegetation Protection) Amendment Bill 2004

Debate resumed from 30 June 2004, on motion by Ms Dundas:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MRS DUNNE (3.45): The stated aim of the Nature Conservation (Native Vegetation Protection) Amendment Bill 2004 is to protect patches of vegetation supporting endemic ACT species and it applies only to vegetation on patches larger than 0.2 of a hectare. The bill establishes a goal of no net loss of endemic vegetation in the ACT. It sets up a new regime of clearing native bush, a series of new offences covering unapproved clearing and new obligations placed on people who wish to clear native vegetation to regenerate other cleared areas or to rehabilitate a currently degraded area of native vegetation. The goal is that over the long term the area of native habitat in the ACT is not reduced as a result of approved clearing. This bill is, in some way, aimed to complement the tree protection regime applying in suburban areas and applies only to patches of endemic native vegetation and not to individual trees, as does the tree protection regime. It does not apply to vegetation in conservation areas.

The Liberal opposition is supportive, in principle, of the aspirations of this bill. I am sorry that I have to make another "good idea but"speech today. I think that the aspirations in this bill are very sound and very strong but we came to the conclusion that at this stage we cannot support the legislation as it currently stands. My views on this were crystallised by the publication of the Productivity Commission report only in the last week or so. The Commonwealth asked the Productivity Commission to conduct a review on the impacts of native vegetation and biodiversity regulation as a consequence of the introduction in 1999 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conversation Act, a Commonwealth act, and some accompanying legislation in various jurisdictions-the principal one, but by no means the least, being that of Victoria on which I understand this piece of legislation proposed by Ms Dundas is modelled.

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