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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (22 September) . . Page.. 1995 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

I commend this report to the Assembly and to the Minister. I urge the Minister to consider these recommendations very seriously and to address them because, in addressing them, he will ensure that Canberra Nature Park is properly managed and that conflicts over conservation and other use are addressed in an appropriate framework, which is certainly not the case, as we discovered, in relation to equestrian access.

MR RUGENDYKE (12.04): Mr Speaker, I simply rise to support and endorse the comments of both Mr Hird and Mr Corbell, my colleagues on this committee, and commend this report to the house.

MS TUCKER (12.05): This looks like a very strong report. From first readings of the recommendations, I congratulate the committee. They have probably made some very important recommendations. I can only support what has been said - that there has been a diminishing of the understanding within government of the importance of the conservation of our nature parks. The very first priority in any management decision about the use, or any proposed use, of those parks must be that it is absolutely compatible with that conservation.

The issue of horse riding, for example, has been one that has put a lot of concern and alarm into those people who are interested in conserving and valuing these really important parts of Canberra and the ACT. I know that there is a very strong lobby group associated with the horse-riding people in the ACT. Of course, it is a legitimate and a very pleasurable activity. I am glad to see that the committee has recommended that government does plan safe and attractive equestrian trails outside the park reserve system, but has taken a strong position on the fact that it is not appropriate for the horses to be in the nature parks to the degree that some of these groups want access.

It is obviously an issue which brings up strong feelings from both horse-riding groups and the people who care for the nature parks, the land care groups - those people who have put so much work into those areas, who love them, care for them and work as volunteers to repair them to give them an even higher conservation value. Sometimes, I believe, government does not actually appreciate or acknowledge that work enough and understand the incredible money that they are saving by volunteering to do this work.

I notice the issue of mountain bikes has also been the subject of a recommendation. Obviously the issues are similar. That is a more recent issue in Canberra because of the growth of that sport. Once again, it is a great sport and a legitimate recreational activity. It has other benefits as well, with the national competition being held in Canberra and certain economic spin-offs coming from that event. I am pleased to see the committee has recommended that a suitable site outside Canberra Nature Park be determined for mountain bike tracks and racing. I know that is something that is being discussed at the moment, and I hope the Government takes it on. I think we are all keen to support the sport; we just want to find a location for it that will not cause damage to the conservation values of our nature parks.

This report also has highlighted difficulties and concerns that have been expressed about the role of the conservator and some of the decisions that he has made. I would have to read the full text of the report to actually see what the committee is recommending in terms of who has the power. I am not quite sure how the responsibilities of the executive

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