Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1901 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
I might refer to page 11 of the document that the Minister put out at the time, the document of the Flora and Fauna Committee. I think this expresses the seriousness with which we have all viewed the work of this committee. The amended Nature Conservation Act obliges the Flora and Fauna Committee to make its assessments on the grounds of nature conservation issues only. I think that says a great deal. They make their recommendations to the Minister and the Minister then takes them forward; but this committee is not constrained by other considerations, and nor should it be. Mr Speaker, I think this is one of the more important events in the life of the ACT and in the period of self-government - that we have progressed this far and that we have established such a high-powered committee to do such important work. I look forward to the next stages in this process.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (4.28), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank members for their support for this statement and for the determination which accompanied it. I share the views of members that this is a very auspicious development in the protection of threatened flora and fauna in the ACT. It is surprising, perhaps, that after a number of years of self-government we have only now come to the stage of being able to cement in place a fairly clear process whereby we can determine for our own jurisdiction how we identify and proceed to protect endangered species and endangered species communities. It is extremely important that we have this capacity. There are a number of native flora and fauna of this region which are not adequately protected by other processes. Our capacity now to deal with the implications of change in respect of those species and species communities is obviously important for us as a community.
The process whereby we have been able to achieve this, as Mr Wood indicated, has been one which depended very heavily on the good work of the Flora and Fauna Committee. Dr Landsberg's effort to produce that result, and her committee's work, are much appreciated by the Government and by, no doubt, the former Government that set the process in train. I hope that as we encounter other processes and develop other procedures to deal with such issues, some of which undoubtedly will be controversial, we will come back to and remember the solid foundation on which this process has been laid. There will be times when we will disagree about the appropriate level of protection for particular endangered or threatened species, and in those circumstances we should recall that, as Mr Wood was at pains to point out, we have based our determination of what is at risk and how we proceed to protect what is at risk on the work of this committee of experts - people whose work it is, whose life it is, to assess the environmental values of such species and who are in a good position to be able to offer impartial and considered advice to the Government, the Assembly and the ACT community.
I believe that the criteria laid down here are very good. I assume that the disallowable instrument which accompanies this is supported by the Assembly, although we cannot term that as a motion to disallow this instrument. We assume that the comments reflect support for the instrument. We also hope that, as problems occur in the future and as issues arise, we can refine this process so that it meets our needs. The development of action plans arising out of the identification of species and what steps need to be taken to protect them will be a process that will take some time to work out. The action plans