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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 696 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The only other issue I would raise, Mr Speaker, is in relation to fees at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. The Government continues to say that the issues of fees at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a government policy issue and is outside the scope of the draft management plan. Whilst that may be technically true it, again, goes to the heart of the issue as to effective and reasonable levels of funding to ensure that this draft management plan can be implemented effectively. The Government has said that the current policy is to return all revenue raised from entry fees at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. There is no guarantee that that will remain the case over a period of time. Members would be aware of the Labor Party's position in relation to entry fees at the reserve. But, that decision having been made, we would expect that there would be a far stronger commitment from the Government than the one we have seen in the response today.

Mr Speaker, it is certainly pleasing to see that a number of other issues have been agreed to. I note recommendation No. 8, which deals with the need for the Government's Environment Advisory Committee to examine the implementation plan for conservation areas such as Tidbinbilla Nature Park and provide advice on the appropriateness of the plan. That is certainly welcome.

The only other one I would like to raise, Mr Speaker, is in relation to a review by an independent assessor of the implementation work in relation to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve management plan every three years and the report on the review being tabled in the Assembly and made available to the appropriate Assembly committee. The Government has said that it agrees with that in principle, but it has decided, instead, that it will ask the Environment Advisory Committee to do that review. That would be a committee appointed by the Government reporting to the Government. I think that it would be fair to say that our committee's intention in making that recommendation was that it needs to be an independent assessment.

Mr Hargreaves: How independent?

MR CORBELL: Completely independent. I know that the Minister has some difficulty with this concept, but it is fairly important. In this case, Mr Speaker, there is a need for an independent assessor along the lines outlined by the Conservation Council of the South East Region and Canberra whose report the Government should be adopting in this case, rather than the Environment Advisory Committee, which is not the most adequate way of dealing with this recommendation. Again, on that recommendation, it is unfortunate that the Government has not taken the steps that the committee would have liked.

The document is a very mixed response from the Government in relation to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. It is disappointing in that respect because Tidbinbilla is a very significant part of Canberra's natural environment and deserves perhaps greater attention in relation to the committee's recommendations than we have seen from the Government to date.

Debate (on motion by Ms Tucker ) adjourned.

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