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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 June 2017) . . Page.. 1905 ..

Let me turn to the issue of the illegal clearing and collection of wood from woodlands and forests, because it can have damaging effects on local ecosystems. In particular, if people are going out and cutting wood, that is problematic, but also we should not underestimate the importance of fallen timber in our ecosystem. This can be an important way of supporting flora, insects, lizards and birds in the way that things play out in the ecosystem. This has been recognised in Mulligans Flat.

I was pleased to hear yesterday the announcement of the extension of the predator-proof fence at Mulligans Flat and that that work will get underway through a combination of federal government and ACT government funding as well as money raised by the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust. At Mulligans Flat, rangers and scientists have worked to bring in fallen timber and lay it out and then undertake studies. What they have found—I will relay this in layman’s terms, not scientific terms—is an increase in the presence of many small reptiles, lizards, insects and the like. This has, of course, good impacts on the environment both in the role they play in the ecosystem but also as a food source for higher order predators. We have seen a clear, scientific study of that in Mulligans Flat and that obviously is replicated throughout other parts of woodlands across this region.

The Greens do accept that this change will reduce the administrative burden on both industry and government. However, I do urge the minister to ensure that the new arrangement maintains adequate oversight through the registration and annual reporting processes to ensure compliance with the conditions of the previous code of practice. We must also ensure that we do not lose an opportunity to inform merchants about the sensitivities around firewood collection and educate customers about best practice wood-burning types of wood and where it is collected from. The Greens will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that the amendment does not reduce environmental protections, for the very reasons that I have outlined today.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.29), in reply: The power to regulate is one of the most important powers the government exercises on behalf of the community. A good regulation ensures that market forces work for the benefit of people and that safety, better services, protection for the environment and a whole range of public benefits can be achieved. But over time the things that we regulate change. The needs and the expectations of the community change, and sometimes well-intentioned regulatory schemes do not operate in practice the way that we expected. When a rule, an act or a policy no longer serves its intended purpose, that rule becomes red tape.

Red tape reduction is about removing regulation for regulation’s sake. It is about creating regulations that are precisely crafted to achieve a public benefit. The Red Tape Reduction Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 addresses legislative issues across a range of portfolio responsibilities. These amendments will make life easier for those living and working in the ACT while still ensuring we have the correct level of safeguards in place. The bill we are considering today will make it easier to do business in Canberra; reduce compliance burdens on charities; make getting a licence easier for people who want to take up work in the security industry; and improve the technical aspects of a variety of regulatory schemes.

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