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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1900 ..

MS HORODNY (continuing):

Perhaps, through our wisdom, we can, even in our backyards, help save at least some of our threatened species and threatened communities from being driven to extinction. It is therefore a pity that, while, on the one hand, the Government has declared its support for protecting endangered species, the same Government recently reduced the limited protection which, until now, has been afforded to remnant native vegetation in the form of ancient habitat eucalypts in residential areas. The work which has been done by this committee is encouraging, but true commitment will be displayed only through strong action. We will be scrutinising closely all Government initiatives, to ensure that we do protect our unique Australian flora and fauna.

MR WOOD (4.22): Mr Speaker, not surprisingly, I want to say something about these criteria, this Determination No. 99 of this year, since I was the Minister when this action was instigated. I am very pleased to be able to comment on the successful next stage in this important process. The Flora and Fauna Committee has now brought forward the procedures and the criteria for the declaration of endangered or vulnerable species, for the declaration of endangered ecological communities, and for the declaration of threatening processes. The formation of the Flora and Fauna Committee follows substantial amendments late last year to the Nature Conservation Act. Members would know that I appointed this committee in January of this year.

The ACT is fortunate that we have people of such high calibre who will serve on these committees. It was a difficult task to appoint that committee because there were so many highly qualified people who were prepared to give their services. The selection involved a balance of people representing a variety of disciplines that are encompassed by the work of the committee. These people came from academic institutions in the ACT, the two universities, CSIRO and other areas of the public service. It is a committee of experts, people with very specific knowledge. The same comments might be made about the report of the Commissioner for the Environment, which I expect to be debating after this matter.

Mr Berry: Not today, though.

MR WOOD: Not today. Well, soon enough. That report was aided immensely by the talent that was available. Some 50 people of high scientific competence gathered together to provide their knowledge in presenting an outstanding report. At the time it was impossible for me to put a cost on the value of their services, but if the Government had had to provide fees to consultants to do that work it would have been an immensely costly exercise. Indeed, I do not think we would have had a report of the quality that we finished up with. In both cases - in the report of the Commissioner for the Environment and in the criteria from the Flora and Fauna Committee - Canberrans have lent their time and their expertise for the benefit of the Territory. I am sure that this Assembly will acknowledge their contribution. This has now been received. After the committee's consideration and after extensive consultation, we now have these criteria as required in the amended Act. This now begins the important process of identifying accurately threatened species and communities. Some of those apparently "mutated" species that arise in some parts of our city are much on our lips these days! But there are other areas, other species or communities, that we may not even be aware of. We look eagerly to the action that might come to identify and then protect those species. Now is the time that we move forward to provide that further protection.

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