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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3766 ..

MR CORBELL (5.31): Mr Speaker, the Labor Party will be supporting this amendment. This is not a radical concept that the Assembly is being presented with today. It is in fact a concept which has already been implemented in a number of other jurisdictions where land management agreements are in place between governments and rural leaseholders or rural property owners, as the case may be. It is a sensible proposition which will provide a mechanism and forum for cooperation between all the affected parties in relation to environment protection of rural leases. This should be welcomed by this Assembly and embraced by this Assembly because it does provide a very important mechanism.

Mr Kaine raised the issue of the Environment Advisory Committee. That performs quite a different function from that of the Rural Conservation Trust as proposed by Ms Tucker. I would like to echo Ms Tucker's concerns. As I outlined in my speech at the in-principle stage, we have significant concerns about the amount of money the Government has set aside for the purposes of funding projects outlined and required as part of land management agreements.

The figure the Government has set upon to fund these projects is $230,000. It is a one-off figure. When I asked departmental officials how the Government came up with this figure, they could not tell me. At the same time, they said that it should be enough money. They also conceded that they were not that sure what the value of all the projects involved in the land management agreements would be. Yet they were sure that this figure would be enough.

It seems that this is simply the amount of money the Government felt it could afford. That is the bottom line. The concern for this Assembly is that there is not much point in having a land management agreement and having in place the very important mechanisms proposed in this Bill to manage environmental issues on rural leases unless there is the resourcing to back it up. The Minister for Urban Services, as the environment Minister, will go all over the city saying what a wonderful environmental record his Government has because they have put in place LMAs, but they mean very little unless they are backed up with the resources needed to make sure that they can be effective. The Government has not provided any justification for why it thinks $230,000 is enough. They have not assessed what the demand will be. It seems to me to be an arbitrary figure, a figure pulled out of the air.

The establishment of a Rural Conservation Trust, as proposed by this amendment, will assist in focusing the efforts of all the different parties in the administration of LMAs. It will also address the very important issue of making sure that appropriate funding is provided for these projects. I will be moving some amendments later in relation to funding, but I think it is important that the Assembly accept the amendment proposed by Ms Tucker this afternoon. This is not a radical concept. In fact, it is a well-established practical concept operating in many other States.

MR SPEAKER: Do you mind moving your amendment No. 1, Mr Corbell?

MR CORBELL: I move the following amendment to Ms Tucker's proposed new clause:

Proposed new section 221B-

Add at the end the following subsection:

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