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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3094 ..

MS TUCKER (4.28), in reply: The first point I would have to make is that this is not about Dr Adrian in particular. Obviously, as the person in the position at the moment he is implicated, but this is not the point of it. It is pretty disappointing that Mr Humphries cannot realise that, if you want to make a system change, whoever is in the current system before the change is going to be affected. That is obviously the case in any situation where a change is proposed. Dr Adrian's qualifications are widely known. Whether or not Mr Humphries thinks that these particular qualifications would fit nature and conservation is not particularly relevant. We are interested in seeing someone with qualifications and experience in nature conservation take this very important, responsible position.

Mr Rugendyke and maybe Mr Kaine have forgotten, or are not aware of what the conservator is actually responsible for. Mr Kaine said it is a normal Public Service appointment. The person who gets that job has to prepare and maintain a nature conservation strategy for the ACT. That requires a lot of understanding and expertise of what can be quite technical issues; preparing action plans for the protection of endangered species. Equally, it requires deep understanding of issues related to matters such as issuing of licences for various activities that affect native flora and fauna in the ACT and for activities within nature reserves. These tasks are extremely significant.

The arguments that have come from Mr Humphries, Mr Smyth and Mr Kaine - I am not quite sure what Mr Rugendyke's argument was - actually downgrade the importance of environmental considerations in government decision-making and downgrade the importance of the biological sciences. It is not correct to suggest that this can be just an ordinary Public Service position.

Mr Kaine, we just do not agree with your position on it. That is probably why I am a member of the Greens party. Mr Kaine does not agree with our interpretation. That is right; that is a political debate that we have in the Assembly and that is what parliaments are about. My view, and the view of the Urban Services Committee, was that there were some grave concerns about what was happening in the role of the conservator at this stage.

Mr Rugendyke: Different issue.

MS TUCKER: Mr Rugendyke says it is a different issue. In the committee's report on the draft management plan for Canberra Nature Park, the committee made some quite scathing remarks about the conservator's actions in relation to recommending that horse riding be allowed in the Aranda bushland. I quote:

The committee is seriously disturbed that the Conservator of Wildlife would approve an extension of horse trails in Canberra Nature Park, including into the Aranda bushland, in the absence of detailed knowledge about the effects of horses upon existing areas. In the opinion of members, this action is bordering on negligence.

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