National Parks And Wildlife (Mining In Sanctuaries) Amendment Bill

05 Mar 2008 archivespeech

I rise to speak on behalf of Liberal members in relation to this particular bill, which seeks to amend sanctuary provisions of the Native Parks and Wildlife Act in two ways: first, to ensure that sanctuaries can only be de-proclaimed by resolution of both houses of parliament; and, secondly, to prohibit mineral exploration and mineral extraction in sanctuaries.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (17:21): The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is some 610 square kilometres on a pastoral lease that the lease owners have dedicated to conservation and ecotourism. It is home to the threatened yellow-footed rock wallaby and reptile and plant species in danger of extinction. Arkaroola was granted sanctuary status in 1996 by the then Liberal government.

Marathon Resources believes that the Mount Gee area is one of Australia's largest undeveloped uranium deposits, and I note that this bill has been introduced in relation to that issue. Indeed, there have been a number of media articles—which I think have disturbed a number of us and probably do not place the mining industry in the best light—on some of the activities, whether it has been the contractors on that site or company employees, and we wait to hear from the government as to its investigation in those areas.

It should be a warning in the future that it ought to heed the respect that our community expects companies to demonstrate to the environment. That said, I am of the understanding that, in the agreement with the government, Marathon Resources may not have had some of the environmental expectations outlined as thoroughly as it could have, and for that I think the government ought to hang its head in shame.

This bill is to try to bring similar status to sanctuaries that apply to other environmental areas, such as national parks and so forth. I note that it does apply to private property. I think that the comparison can be drawn with the Native Vegetation Act and, indeed, heritage buildings, in that there can be some disincentives for private owners to have those areas specifically recognised in the way suggested by this bill, because it does limit them in some way.

A number of private landholders to whom I have spoken about the Native Vegetation Act have found some of the practices—and this would be well outlined by a number of my colleagues in the House of Assembly—so imposing that they are less inclined to actually participate in other native vegetation activities on a voluntary basis. I think it is very important that private landowners, who have these great assets which they look after on behalf of all South Australians and future generations, be given every encouragement to do so.

In terms of sanctuaries, my understanding is that the purpose of a sanctuary is largely to protect native flora and fauna and, in particular, to encourage private owners to be involved voluntarily, notwithstanding some of the negative activities that may be occurring in connection with the Marathon Resources lease. The Liberal Party will not be supporting this bill.