Page 2532 - Week 06 - Thursday, 23 June 2011

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There are a couple of particular issues I would like to mention. One issue that the Greens have raised with the Chief Minister is that of transferring some parts of the parks service and other biodiversity experts back into the environmental sustainability directorate—more specifically, shifting the rangers and other non-urban park managers, as well as the weeds and pest team, into a section with other biodiversity specialists in the old DECCEW.

The rationale for this is linked somewhat to concerns that have been raised around the parks service about low morale and a lack of an integrated service. Many of the people that are employed to look after our nature parks and national parks are highly skilled in areas of ecology and biology, yet we are missing the opportunity to get the benefits of that experience in the development of policy. The government has already decided to move the research and planning section that will support the conservator into the environmental sustainability directorate. We are simply recommending that they do the same with the other biodiversity experts that are currently located within what is effectively a town council directorate. That way we can close the feedback and implementation loops between those who are writing policy and those who are implementing it out in the parks—our rangers and weed and pest managers.

One great example over the past couple of years that demonstrates why this could be useful is to do with the management of our grasslands. When the commissioner released her grasslands report a couple of years ago, some of the problems identified with current management were that urban parks people and subcontractors were involved in the mowing of grassland areas. Mowing might sound like a simple task, but when mowing is part of grassland management it requires care—care that it is done at the right time and done with machinery that will not spread weeds into the area.

There are a whole range of issues that are different from the mowing that takes place in our urban parks. A specialised grasslands ranger or manager would be better placed to ensure that these special requirements are put in place. They would also be better placed to assess the status of the grassland and make decisions about management, and also feed this into ongoing monitoring and into policy development. This is just one small example of the opportunities we are missing; there may well be others.

We are still waiting to hear if the government can and will implement this change. We think that they agree that there is some merit in the idea. We would encourage them to do it now as the directorates are settling into their new structures. The government have a great opportunity here to build a team that can deliver integrated natural resource management, something the ACT desperately needs.

On the details of the bill, we are satisfied with the proposed structure of the public service and powers that are being given to the head of service as well as the other administrative arrangements being created by the provisions of the bill.

In relation to the miscellaneous amendments bill, the Greens have no issue and agree to the name changes throughout the statutes and instruments proposed.

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