This speech is in relation to the Native Vegetation (Application Of Act) Amendment Bill. The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK indicates her support for the bill.
Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 6 April 2011.)
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (17:15): I rise to make some remarks in relation to this bill, which, I think it is fair to say, has had more scrutiny than was perhaps necessary. I will not go into a lot of that detail. I understand that the mover of the bill will provide some of those remarks in his summing up. This bill, from my understanding, contains clauses which are identical to some which were contained in a previous bill in 2007 or 2008, which sought to clarify the application of the Native Vegetation Act 1991. The Liberal Party had no opposition to those provisions at that time.
This particular bill deals with section 4 of the Native Vegetation Act, which outlines where the act applies, which, in general, is to the whole state, with exemptions which are outlined in various hundreds located within the metropolitan area. One area which is currently explicitly included in the metropolitan area and, therefore, outside the scope of this act, is 'east of the Hills Face Zone'. So, the effect of that is that the act is applied inconsistently in this area.
Honourable members may well be aware that there has been longstanding concern within the conservation sector for the threatened grey box woodlands, which is a tree species which fails to be protected under significant tree legislation—which is the metropolitan alternative to native vegetation protection—because its girth size will never reach the threshold to have it protected. This bill targets suburbs within the City of Mitcham, so that Belair, Bellevue Heights, Blackwood, Coromandel Valley, Craigburn Farm, Eden Hills, Glenalta and Hawthorndene will be included and, therefore, species such as grey box will be protected in these suburbs.
I personally sought to gain the views of the City of Mitcham, which is something that my party asked me to do. It was really to clarify what their position was because they had written to the leader in this place in his role as the then shadow minister for the environment and stated that they held concerns about the protection of the grey box species. I asked them to confirm that that was the case and we have now had confirmation from council that they do indeed support that. So, that is positive.
With those remarks, I indicate support for the bill and look forward to greater protection for important native vegetation species within those particular areas. I note that, particularly in the metropolitan area, there is very, very little remnant native vegetation. I think there is some contained within the Enfield cemetery and obviously some within these areas. When we have eminent people like Professor David Paton warning us about declining bird species in the Adelaide Hills, I think it is of paramount importance that we protect what we have left for future generations.