Page 752 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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MR STANHOPE: So he has done it. It is a consensus report, supported by all—a unanimous recommendation that pines could be planted in the Cotter—signed off by Peter Cullen; a unanimous report. If Professor Cullen has walked away from the report or the recommendations, I think it behoves him to indicate that that is precisely what he has done.

There is another article on Saturday, 5 March. Through all of these articles, the Cotter is continually described by these leading but unnamed scientists as a basket case. Of course, none of them has been yet identified, none of them has been yet named, but the story or the allegation or the assertion is repeated ad nauseam. On Saturday, 5 March, the headline was “Work to resume in Cotter catchment”. In the second paragraph it says that a leaked report reveals that, six months after the fire, Bob Wasson urged the government to undertake a thorough study of the impact of erosion and run-off in the catchment.” Once again, Professor Wasson was a member of the Shaping our territory report. He is one of the scientists that formed part of that expert group that took advice from the whole of the community—consulted extensively, invited submissions, engaged, at significant expense, a full range of consultants and experts to advise on the work that was being done—and, once again, Professor Wasson was a signatory to the final, ultimate report on which a submission to cabinet was based and on which cabinet made its ultimate decisions in relation to the restoration of the Cotter. Once again, of course, we have references to a basket case, attributed, once again, to unnamed leading scientists.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.03): I am going to talk quite fast today because I have a lot to say, and I believe I have only 10 minutes to say it in. Initially I want to respond to the assumptions made by Mr Stanhope yesterday in his response to my question without notice. Of course, I think a well-tried debating technique was operating here, which is where one reduces another’s—I am not going to use the word “opponent” because I do not like that style of politics—complex concerns to very simple ones and then addresses those simple concerns. I have seen this reflected in media reports again today and I want to address those issues here.

The first of those is that I am reflecting a concern that only the health of humans matters. There probably have been impacts on human health through the use of chemicals, but I am also concerned about other species. I am a Green, so I guess you will not be surprised at that. I am concerned about the effect of some of these chemicals on frogs—for instance, tadpole populations are known to be affected—and, of course, vegetation and all the other spectrum of animal and plant life that I am sure that Mr Stanhope does not have a very good understanding of. My second concern is the assumption that my approach to the replanting of pines is ideological.

I want to point out again—Mr Stanhope probably knows this—that my concerns are based on very widely available economic and ecological research. The economic evidence is that we do not need these softwood plantations; we already have enough mature softwoods and developing softwoods in Australia to replace native hardwood harvesting for sawn timber and chips. That, of course, is something I am very committed to. I do not support the planting of plantations in order to phase out hardwood logging in the ACT because any new or replacement plantations in this country should be strategically placed according to the proximity of processing facilities and the soil

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