Page 972 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 April 2014

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over 781 hectares of land previously designated for development has been retained and will be managed for conservation of listed ecological communities and threatened species. It is a great example of how this accreditation process operates and how a strategic assessment can achieve those broader benefits for our community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, what role will the Nature Conservation Act play in the new assessment and approval regime?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for her supplementary. The Nature Conservation Act will play a critical role in the new assessment process currently subject to negotiation between the commonwealth and the ACT. We are currently rewriting and updating our legislation. An exposure draft of the Nature Conservation Bill has been out for public comment, as members would know. There is now a further process of engagement with stakeholders through a roundtable which is being hosted by the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainability following a discussion on and a resolution of this place, and I look forward to those further discussions.

New provisions will need to be put in place that rationalise regulatory approaches. We will need to strengthen the nature conservation framework. We will need to look at an expanded role for the conservator and align threatened species and ecological community categories in our legislation with those set out under the EPBC legislation.

These are important matters that will further facilitate this streamlined and concurrent assessment process between the commonwealth and the ACT when it comes to environmental approvals in Canberra and the territory.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Minister, which other key stakeholders will the government be liaising with on this important program?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Berry for her supplementary. The government will be engaging further with a whole range of key stakeholders. Obviously, non-government environment groups, the Conservator of Flora and Fauna, scientific bodies and the ministerial advisory body that advises me on nature conservation matters will all be engaged through this process, and have been already to date, in quite an extensive way.

We will remain in these discussions because we want to make sure we get the balance right. We want to make sure we maintain strong environmental protections. Whilst we see other states and territories winding back environmental protections, that is not the approach to be adopted here in the ACT. We will be making sure that our existing environmental protections are maintained, and where appropriate strengthened, whilst still allowing for a reduction in duplication and a streamlining of assessment processes between the operation of commonwealth law and the operation of territory law.

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