Page 4233 - Week 13 - Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Nature Conservation Bill 2014

Debate resumed from 18 September 2014, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (4.49): It gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak for what I presume will be last time this year and possibly for some time on the Nature Conservation Bill. It has been under review for quite some time and, long before I was a member, the review of the bill was already underway. Since I became the shadow minister for the environment, it has been a constant part of the work of my office. I would be surprised if there is another piece of legislation that falls within my portfolio that is as big and detailed as this. It is an important bill for the future of our territory and for our natural environment. It is long overdue and it is a bill I am pleased to be able to have had input into.

It was an election policy of the Canberra Liberals in 2012 to undertake a review of the Nature Conservation Act, something that everyone knew needed to be completed. Mrs Dunne, the then shadow minister for nature conservation, announced on 13 October 2012 that, if elected, the Canberra Liberals would review the Nature Conservation Act 1980 and bring all nature conservation functions into one directorate. I am pleased today that, once we get through the range of amendments, part of this promise will have been completed. I of course would be even happier, though, if we were standing here with a single nature conservation agency. But, as we heard again today, this is something that the government is making slow progress on, if any progress.

The Nature Conservation Act 1980 has been the primary ACT legislation for over 30 years and covers an extensive area of nature conservation policy as well as having flow-on effects to other legislation. It is important to get its replacement right. I stood here in February and argued that we needed to ensure proper scrutiny of the bill from all stakeholders in order to guarantee that a new act would place our nature conservation activities in a better position than before. The government did spend an extended period putting this bill together and initially only gave interested stakeholders a mere six weeks to submit feedback on such a complex, intricate and important piece of legislation. Yet stakeholders only had from 31 October to 13 December to provide their feedback. It was not until the minister was contacted on numerous occasions towards the end of the consultation process that he extended this time frame over the Christmas period last year.

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