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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3749 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

zones. And they include a mechanism for dispute resolution. Where management of specific conservation issues is identified under the arrangements, it may be used as a basis for seeking grants under the Government's proposed rural conservation fund.

Ms Tucker made reference to what she saw as a very good deal that the Government was giving rural lessees. It is true, it is a good deal, but it is with the expectation that a 15 per cent discount, the good deal, is put back into their properties. This is an opportunity to ensure we give farmers the tools and encouragement that they have lacked because of uncertainty in recent years to go out and make sure they do the right thing by their properties and by the community.

The new land management agreements have the objective of ensuring that the rural land in the ACT is managed in a sustainable manner and can serve future generations, while recognising that balance between livelihood and conservation. They will have to have an LMA in place before the new grant is made. Mr Speaker, there are significant penalties and an order may be made against a person who is managing land contrary to their land management agreement. It is an offence with a penalty of $5,000 not to comply with an order.

Environment ACT maintains a rural liaison service based on a cooperative approach to issues of common interest. We will continue that. We want to work with the rural lessees to make sure that they do the right thing. This is in contrast to the Greens' proposal. The Government's land management agreement process recognises that rural lessees are not a bunch of recalcitrant environmental vandals, that they are a responsible group of land managers and primary producers and that, in collaboration with the Government, they are keen to ensure that the productive capacity of their land is maintained and the natural heritage of future Canberrans protected for the long term. The Government will not be supporting the Green amendments, and, therefore, assuming they go down, hopefully we will not have to support Mr Corbell's amendments either.

Mr Speaker, this is a good package of reform. It is a package that has taken some time to put together. I have to comment here on the process that has been put in place here, and would compliment the former Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning, Mr Humphries, on the process he was able to start. It was all about consultation. It was about getting out there and talking with all the stakeholders. It was making sure that we took the time to listen to people's concerns. We allowed the lessees to get on with the job of having a rural livelihood, at the same time protecting the nature conservation values of the land and the future that it is for all generations of Canberrans to come; but at the same time having a framework which people can live with. It has taken some time. Over that time it has been quite difficult. For instance, where the task force initially suggested we should travel has ended up as a far more complicated process that has seen the amendments to the Acts coming forward today.

It is, and has been, a good process in terms of consultation. I believe there has been plenty of consultation. The Government is willing to give ground where flaws have been pointed out. We are willing to make amendments.

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