Michelle Lensink

Native Vegetation (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

This speech is to indicate support for the Native Vegetation (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:02): I rise to support this legislation also, and some of my comments will be very similar to those made by previous speakers. I think there is cross-party support for the principle of native vegetation for the purposes of preserving habitat and biodiversity and going in some way to providing protection for our threatened species. However, I would have to say that, when one looks across the range of environmental laws and agencies, it is quite afragmented area. I think our environment spokesperson in another place, the member for MacKillop, alluded to this also and said that we may need to integrate further some of our environmental laws to ensure that the threatened species are mapped together with remaining vegetation and some areas may need to be revegetated to provide appropriate habitat for threatened species.

On that note, being a bushwalker in the Adelaide Hills, I also make reference to the parks system. I have some concern about the level of infestation of exotic weeds and so forth, and that adjoining land-holders may not be fulfilling their duties to the environment to keep those under control. We have also had issues in several parks in the state where people may take their dogs into conservation zones or ride their bikes when it is clearly not intended. That can certainly have an impact on the local flora and fauna, in that they can bring in weed seeds. Also, dogs can scare the local wildlife. From that point of view, and from the point of view of natural resource management, we may need to rewrite our entire environmental laws if we are serious about protecting species into the future. I would like to declare an interest, as a member of Trees for Life and as someone who has for the past two years been growing seedlings that are intended for revegetating at Emu Bay on Kangaroo Island.

We know that, since European settlement in South Australia, we have cleared vast tracts of land without understanding its impact on biodiversity. In many ways, we need to look at winding back the clock, if you like, and there are quite a few people who have heritage agreements, and so forth, with primary producers who are working very hard to try to provide additional vegetation. It is an area where we have a better understanding, but I think that we will need to continue to do a lot of work in that area. This bill takes steps in the right direction and streamlines the rules relating to native vegetation clearance.

Many people (and many of our members in the House of Assembly over the years) have spoken about native vegetation and the vexatious relationship between land-holders and the Native Vegetation Council, which has been seen as overly bureaucratic, very focused on its rules and not flexible in its approach towards land-holders. So, I am very pleased that this bill will assist in that direction, in that the offsets may be provided in areas that are separate from the remnant vegetation, there are better linkages between natural resource management and the Native Vegetation Council, and a range of other measures.

My colleagues the Hon. Caroline Schaefer and the Hon. David Ridgway referred to firefighters. As a Hills dweller, that is something about which I am also very conscious, particularly in these days of very high temperatures. I believe that our firefighters, particularly the volunteers in country areas, ought to be given the tools to do their job effectively and without endangering their own lives. For those reasons, and also for reasons concerning the point of view of the land-holder, the Liberal Party will move a number of amendments to this bill, to which previous speakers have referred. These amendments will be tabled by the Hon. Stephen Wade, who has the carriage of emergency services issues and, in particular, country fire services. He has great sympathy with respect to a number of their concerns. I commend the bill to the house.

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