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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (22 September) . . Page.. 1991 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

I want to say two things at the outset: First, I commend my two colleagues on the committee, Mr Dave Rugendyke and Mr Simon Corbell, for their care and diligence in all phases of this inquiry; and, second, I emphasise that the production of the management plan for Canberra Nature Park is a major achievement. It has been years in the making; it follows extensive consultation; it contains a wealth of valuable material; and the final plan will provide a sound basis for planning, management and community guidance.

I now turn to the report itself, Mr Speaker. The report deals with contentious issues in our community. The most obvious is whether horses should be allowed into three parts of Canberra nature parks where they have not been allowed to date - namely, Aranda bushland, the Pinnacle and Mount Painter. The committee has recommended that this not happen for reasons set out in the report. Another contentious issue relates to the resources available to run Canberra Nature Park. The committee came to the conclusion, after a lot of serious study and after an ongoing inspection, that the existing resources are not adequate. That is the basis of one of our recommendations. A further recommendation deals with the position of Conservator of Fauna and Flora and the position of executive director of Environment ACT. At present they are one and the same person, but the committee believes the position should be split.

In all, the committee has made 20 recommendations. They are set out at the front of the report. Their range and detail show that the committee system is working at its best. The report contains six chapters. Chapter 1 sets out the background to the inquiry; chapters 2 to 4 set out some key points in the written and oral evidence presented to the committee; chapter 5 summarises a decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal that deals with horses in Aranda bushland; and the final chapter sets out the 13 issues that the committee chose to address specifically.

The committee has deliberately chosen to structure the report in this way. It means that the reader can see the diversity of opinion that we encountered in the course of the inquiry, and perhaps can appreciate the passionate nature of these different viewpoints. The committee looks forward to the Government's response to this very detailed report. On behalf of the committee, I thank those who appeared before us and I thank Mr Rod Power, our secretary. I commend the report to the house.

MR CORBELL (11.50): Mr Speaker, I begin by commending both my chairman, Mr Hird, and also my colleague Mr Rugendyke on the very effective way in which I believe this report has been produced. This report shows very strongly the ability of the committee system to work in a unanimous way and to produce some very important recommendations, which may not be entirely to any particular government's liking. Nevertheless, the report does make a series of very important recommendations about the management of an aspect of our city which is integral to what Canberra is all about as the bush capital.

Canberra Nature Park is a significant part of the national capital. It covers approximately 6,000 hectares of land. I understand it has 6,000 neighbours - that is, residents who abut onto the back of nature reserves all around the city - and it is a complex management task, with approximately 27 separate units to manage.

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