Page 1529 - Week 04 - Thursday, 7 April 2011

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Those questions no doubt will all be explored in the committee, and the Greens will be supporting the referral today.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Planning and Environment—Standing Committee (Sixth Assembly)

Report 34—government response

Debate resumed from 6 May 2010, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.55): I must say, it does seem a little odd that we are here today discussing the government’s response to the committee’s report into the draft Namadgi management plan, particularly as the final management plan was released last year and we discussed the matter in the Assembly in August last year. In some ways it would be a more appropriate use of time if the government actually gave us an update on how they are going with implementing the management plan, rather than us assessing the government’s response to the committee’s report into the draft plan of management which is now being superseded by the final plan of management.

Nonetheless, that is where we find ourselves today and so I am going to take this opportunity to make some comments on that government response and I guess on issues around the state of the park generally, which is perhaps where the debate really is at now. We noted last year that there has been no funding for a state of the park report for Namadgi. Annual reporting against the management plan is something that stakeholders have been keen to see. Perhaps if we had annual reporting against the management plan it would be the government that would be here today giving us an update on progress against the management plan.

We also noted previously that a state of the park report would come into its own as an indicator of the ecological values of the park. This would be welcome, especially against a backdrop of an increasing number of anthropocentric indicators for parks and reserves, as we saw in last year’s budget papers—a matter that I raised in the estimates hearings. Ecological indicators would actually put front and centre that the primary benefit of our national parks is their conservation value, not their recreational value or some other value. This does not mean, of course, that we should not or cannot use our parks for recreational purposes. It is simply that recreational pursuits should not be undertaken in national parks at the expense of ecological values.

The management plan does not cover reporting against its own action, and that is a shame. I can imagine, given how it seems that the government is resigned to an underfunded parks system here in the ACT, that it was felt that annual reporting may be too expensive. I would encourage the government to reconsider this, as I think that ultimately we cannot provide good management without good reporting, and a lack of reporting is the first step along the path to poor management. More importantly, how do we even know if the management we are putting in place is effective in delivering

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