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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3087 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Rather than compromising the nature conservation values of the ACT nature reserves and national parks, these improvements serve to educate the public and to encourage the general community to enjoy and understand and play their part in protecting the biodiversity of the ACT - all under the auspices of the conservator. The Government has a strong commitment to providing an education and awareness campaign.

In addition to services such as the Environment Information Centre, the Environment ACT web site and help line, the ACT Government is involved in a number of community awareness activities. An example is the annual World Environment Day Festival. We are a major sponsor and proud to participate in it. All of this activity and these projects demonstrate the commitment of the Government, the conservator and Environment ACT staff to nature conservation in the ACT. These activities, complemented with education and community awareness raising, ensure that there is an understanding and appreciation of the ACT's environment. Over the last two years, the ACT Government has worked with stakeholders to ensure that the ACT continues to be a region renowned for its natural beauty and environmental values.

It is worth noting, Mr Speaker, that over the past three to four years there have been only two AAT appeals in relation to nature conservation matters. The first related to a specific bird licence issue. As a result, the conservator has put in place new licence management procedures, which have significantly improved the licensing of native fauna. The second was the case of Grishin v. the Conservator, where the decision of the conservator was upheld by the tribunal, with a strong endorsement of the conservator's position and the quality of advice from his staff. This demonstrates quite clearly, Mr Speaker, that the existing arrangements are working well.

Almost inevitably decisions and recommendations of the conservator will result in opposition. At the extremes, some will believe they constrain development or are too restrictive on an individual's activities. Others will believe they do not go far enough in protecting our biodiversity. I believe that the balance this Government and the conservator have achieved on nature conservation in the ACT is recognised by the community at large. We have a wonderful, natural human interface and it is being maintained and is not, as Ms Tucker would have us believe, being compromised.

MR CORBELL (4.02): Mr Speaker, we have just had presented to the Assembly the first report from the Chief Health Officer for the ACT. Now, that may seem a strange way to start a speech on an amendment to the conservation Act. But I think it is, perhaps, a useful coincidence that this report has just been tabled. The Chief Health Officer of the ACT must be a doctor, and the Director of Public Prosecutions, to take it a step further, must have legal qualifications. Indeed, Mr Speaker, the Minister for the environment has just outlined a whole range of reasons why the statutory position of the Conservator of Flora and Fauna does not need to have qualifications in that particular area of expertise. He has outlined that he has a range of expert staff who advise him - at the moment, him - on the range of issues relating to the undertaking of his duties.

If that is the case for the Conservator of Flora and Fauna and if the Government believes that that is an appropriate course of action for that position then, surely, we do not need to have a Director of Public Prosecutions who has legal qualifications. We can just have lawyers advising. Indeed, we need not have a doctor as the Chief Health Officer, we can

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