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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3267..

Student survey

Commonwealth environment legislation

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (6.06): I respond to Mary Porter's allegation that our student survey was merely an attempt to enlarge the Greens' contacting list. The survey is a confidential one. It does not include anywhere in it a request for a student's contact details or email address. The letters were sent generically to the SRCs at schools in the ACT. The furthest thing from our mind was what Ms Porter suggested. A quarter of the questions ask about the Greens' proposal for giving 16 to 18-year-olds an optional right to vote.

We did not want to engage in a push-polling exercise, which is why we invited the minister's office to cooperate with us in this exercise of consulting students. The minister's staff declined our invitation. We asked them whether they would like to make any suggestions regarding the contents and format of the survey. Again, the minister's staff declined.

I make it clear that this was not some underhanded attempt to wrong-foot the government. It may well wrong-foot the government, but that would be primarily a result of the government's own consultation processes which have failed to elicit the kind of information we are looking for. We realised that the people who have been directly affected by these proposals and whose futures can be most directly affected by these proposals have not been consulted and that their opinions and suggestions have not been canvassed.

I just had a go at the ACT government. Now let me have a go at the federal government. I refer to environment minister Ian Campbell's Environment and Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill. Because it was tabled this week, it is very likely that most people do not know about it. We are seeing a lot of media self-censorship already. There was an article, but I do not think it gave a sense of the incredible, far-reaching impact of this legislation if it gets adopted, which it will because the federal government has a majority in both houses. An analysis which is being done by the Humane Society International and World Wildlife Fund Australia says that this bill will:

Potentially wipe 500 threatened ecological communities from the current waiting list for protection under the EPBC Act-

the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act-

(amounting to millions of hectares of endangered habitat across the country);

Remove the mandatory requirement to develop a Recovery Plan once a threatened species or ecological community is listed under the law as threatened;

Remove the mandatory requirement to identify "critical habitat"for threatened species in any Recovery Plans that are developed;

Make it harder for the public to secure legal protection for threatened species and ecological communities with a new requirement for public nominations to comply

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