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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 1967 ..

MR KAINE (11.15), in reply: Mr Speaker, the committee initially took this inquiry on as a self-reference. We did so because we noted that a large amount of the Territory was reserved as nature reserves and national parks. We did not know how those resources were being maintained and we did not know the extent to which, if at all, they were being used. One could argue that, if the nation reserves huge tracts of land to remain in their natural state as a resource for the future, we should know that those resources will be there a thousand years from now or a hundred years from now to satisfy the purpose for which they were reserved in the first place. By the same token, if the resources are there to be enjoyed by future populations, then presumably they are there to be enjoyed by the current population as well. But are these resources being utilised? Are they being properly taken care of and maintained? What degradation is occurring? What, if anything, should be done to remedy any degradation? I think that our inquiry answered the broad questions.

In a comparative sense I believe that we have been very fortunate in the ACT because there has not been a huge degradation, by and large, of that natural asset, such as has occurred with some natural resources in other parts of the continent where they have been opened up for tourism, often without any precautions being taken to ensure the conservation of the resource that people are so anxious to go and see. We saw areas where restoration programs have had to be put in place. The ecology quite often is very fragile. It does not take long to destroy it, but it takes decades, sometimes, to restore it. I think we are quite fortunate in the ACT in that we saw no evidence of degradation such as has occurred in other places.

Having seen what the facts were, the report was written with the intention of bringing to the attention of members of this place and the community generally the fact that there is a huge resource out there, and it is a valuable resource. It should be made readily accessible to those people who wish to use it, but that access should be controlled in such a way that degradation does not occur. So the emphasis is on using the resource, but on controlling access, and that implies the existence of management plans that determine where access shall take place, what form of access will be permitted, and that access be controlled, perhaps in some cases by licensing.

It is clear, I think, from the acceptance of the report by both members of the Assembly and members of the Government that the review and the report were worth while. It is pretty clear that the committee's work is considered to have been worth while and that the recommendations are generally supported by the Assembly and by the Government. The Government's response, I think, is very encouraging, because they have rejected none of the recommendations. They have adopted them all, either totally or in principle. In-principle agreement generally relates to those areas where the Government believes that it is already doing something productive. Therefore, it is merely endorsing, if you like, the committee's recommendations because it has already recognised the need and is already doing something about it. I think that is very encouraging. I feel that the committee, in this case, at least, did take on a study that has some value.

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