Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 22 September 2005) . . Page.. 3550 ..
expert in the field of natural heritage, the person to be appointed might very well be an ecologist. But there has to be some limit. The government has decided on a certain constitution.
I am unpersuaded. Whilst I have absolutely no issue with the appointment of an ecologist, I am unpersuaded that we should be changing this particular provision to add to the list of expertise that of an individual when there are probably a dozen different views on the subject around the room.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.21): I take the opportunity to respond to that. Yes, of course, there would be any number of experts on it. I commend the Minister for the Environment for a particularly loquacious response. But yet again, it is not really an answer to why those areas of expertise were chosen and not the expertise in ecology, which he admitted had at least as much right to be there. I would like to think that it was just an oversight, not that an ecologist was deliberately left off the list of the possible alternatives.
I want to reiterate the reasons why I think it is important. If I make those points clearly and strongly now an ecologist might end up being on this committee anyway because we have got a number of members for whom the expertise is not prescribed. At the moment, by rejecting these amendments, the government is refusing to even have an ecologist listed as one of the areas of expertise that might be sought for those extra, non-prescribed members.
I want to refer to a document that was produced very early in the years of self-government; it was one that I had occasion to look at very closely because I was looking at it for some study I was doing at the time. It was a 2020 vision. I do not know if people remember this process. It was quite an expensive one. David Hilliard was commissioned by the Follett government at the time to conduct this vision of what people wanted their city to be in 2020.
Interestingly enough, after these consultations, which were very extensive—and I attended most of them because I was studying; I read all the reports and the submissions—one of the things that came out was that what people appreciate about this city is its bird life. Birds live and nest in trees. Sometimes they annoy us hugely by coming along and eating blossoms and nuts that we would prefer developed into fruit. In fact, I have got birds in my garden, currawongs, that come into my laundry and eat the pet food. We do not always love the birds but, on the whole, people appreciate them. Most particularly they appreciate the native indigenous birds.
One thing that David Hilliard suggested this city should be characterised as is the city of parrots. There might have been a bit of a joke subtext here because maybe some of us are cockatoos. On the other hand, some of us emptily reiterate phrases that we have been taught. In this case he was referring to the real birds that we see. At the moment, I have got them, parrots, eating the blossoms off my fruit trees. I am making the point that trees are habitat. Something the Canberra people really love and appreciate is bird life. An awful lot of people go to a lot of trouble to plant gardens that attract particular kinds of birds. At the same time we are talking about introducing cat containment legislation that will safeguard those birds. Another way we can safeguard those birds is to keep their habitat. That means that we need an ecologist on the committee.