Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3092 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Corbell keeps confusing the issue. Of course the present commissioner has experience. Of course the Commissioner for the Environment has experience. But you are proposing to put in qualifications that would potentially exclude good people who may not formally have those qualifications - people who would be more than eminently capable of carrying out those jobs.
Mr Smyth: Mr Corbell asked the question: "Does the conservator at the moment have qualifications?".
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Corbell asks, "Does the Conservator of Flora and Fauna have qualifications at the moment?". I note that Ms Tucker was reported in the Canberra Times as criticising the fact that Dr Colin Adrian, as the head of Environment ACT and Conservator of Flora and Fauna, was there without what she described as appropriate qualifications. But, according to the Canberra Times, she understood the current conservator did not have the requisite qualifications. The question has to be asked: Did she ask him what qualifications he actually has in this area?
Ms Tucker, the queen of consultation, has not actually, I suspect, asked the present Conservator of Flora and Fauna what qualifications he has in this area. We are led to believe that qualifications in chemistry and marine biology are okay for the Commissioner for the Environment, who has the peak role with respect to advice and reporting on the environment in the ACT. But what qualifications are or are not appropriate with respect to Dr Adrian, who presently holds the position of Conservator of Flora and Fauna? As it happens, Dr Adrian's qualifications are, I think, quite considerable. Dr Adrian holds a Bachelor of Applied Science with honours and also is the recipient of the University Medal. His Applied Science degree includes units or courses in physical geography, including vegetation, soils, geomorphology, et cetera. That was in 1974. He went on to obtain in 1977 a Master of Arts and in 1982 a PhD. He has also lectured, at the University of New South Wales and Duntroon, in physical geography subjects.
I do not think that on paper Dr Adrian has qualifications inappropriate for the role of Conservator of Flora and Fauna in the ACT. And what is more, I know that Dr Adrian has qualifications of other sorts eminently suitable for him heading up both Environment ACT and fulfilling the role of Conservator of Flora and Fauna. I worked with Dr Adrian for a number of years as Minister for the Environment. I found him to be an excellent public servant, a person able to discharge the duties incumbent in those two offices with distinction. I never at any stage had the slightest hesitation in the view that he applied himself to his job and had the necessary qualifications as an individual to be able to discharge that job with distinction.
What the Minister for the environment has clearly demonstrated today in this debate is that Dr Adrian has tackled a number of difficult exercises in the environment in recent years. He has done so with diplomacy and tact and shown leadership with respect to his area of the department and has provided an excellent outcome with respect to those sorts of matters. The things that Mr Smyth referred to; the things that the Government has done for the last five years with respect to the environment, have in some measure or another relied backwards on the work that Dr Adrian and the people underneath him