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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (18 August) . . Page.. 3871..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

we had had the time and if there were more support from other members. I put it to members that the protection of native vegetation in the ACT is an important issue that will not go away and one that will need to be resolved in the next Assembly.

Regulation of land clearing is an issue facing all states and territories and one that has attracted a lot of interest in the last week, given the release of the Productivity Commission's inquiry into the impacts of native vegetation and biodiversity regulations. The Australian Conservation Foundation has noted that if the federal government is serious about conservation then it has to get serious about the scale of funding required. The National Farmers Federation and the Australian Conservation Foundation jointly estimated in 2000 that it would cost $3.7 billion per annum for governments to "repair the country". These are real and significant challenges for us as a nation. However, as I noted earlier, the main threats to native vegetation in the ACT come not from agricultural practices but from urban expansion-an issue that we can and should do something about right now.

While we do nothing and the ACT's remnant vegetation remains unprotected, we continue to put our threatened species and ecological communities at risk. The ABS has recently reported on the large rise in the number of species threatened and on the significant impacts likely from the deterioration of our rivers and from salinity on roads infrastructure by 2050.

In the last 10 years the number of terrestrial bird and mammal species listed as extinct, endangered or vulnerable in Australia rose by 40 per cent. In the ACT, the Commissioner for the Environment noted in the 2003 state of the environment report:

... between 2002-03, 17 hectares of endangered Yellow Box-Red Gum ecological community were cleared for urban development. Along with some small areas of other woodlands, a further 85 hectares of paddock trees with little native understorey were cleared in Gungahlin, Dunlop and Tuggeranong.

As the Commissioner for the Environment noted:

The ACT Government needs to carefully evaluate when it is time to forgo the time-limited benefits from further property development, land sales and rates, in favour of a broader economic base and upholding its regional and national environmental responsibilities.

The ACT Greens will continue to work to ensure that the impact of human activities repair and maintain rather than destroy the territory's biological diversity, including through the protection of ecological communities and broader ecological landscapes. This includes, as a matter of urgency, implementing measures to end the clearing of native vegetation and working to buffer high conservation areas through linking and restoring critical ecological fragments on both public and private land. Protecting the territory's native vegetation is important, as is ensuring that the processes surrounding the approval of the GDE can never be repeated.

MS DUNDAS (4.04): I thank members of this place for their comments on the Nature Conservation (Native Vegetation Protection) Amendment Bill 2004. I am disappointed that it has become obvious that this bill will not pass today. Neither the community nor the business sectors has raised concerns with me about this bill, especially not the


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