Wilderness Protection (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

19 Mar 2013 speecharchive

This speech is in relation to the Wilderness Protection (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill and indicates the Hon Michelle Lensink's support.

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 19 February 2013.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:31): I rise to make some remarks in relation to this bill. At the outset, I would like to thank the minister and his officers for providing a briefing. I would also like to thank his office for providing a written response to questions which were raised during the briefing, which I will put at the end of my speech and request that those be read into the record.

The Wilderness Protection Act of 1992 exists to provide protection for wilderness protection areas and wilderness protection zones, large areas which have been set aside because they have significant intact habitat. The smallest of these is the offshore islands near Elliston, known as the Investigator Group Wilderness Protection Area at 440 hectares, the largest being Yellabinna, north of Ceduna, at over half a million hectares.

According to the annual report, there are 14 wilderness protection areas which together with one awaiting confirmation to be proclaimed—the Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area—makes 15. They are all in regional areas and many are quite remote including the Riverland, Kangaroo Island, Far North East, Eyre Peninsula, Mallee and Far West. The need to amend the act has arisen because it does not allow for co-management with Indigenous traditional owners.

Co-management is currently a feature of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 and this bill inserts those provisions. I understand from the briefing that the Yellabinna and Nullarbor wilderness protection areas are the only ones which are anticipated to proceed in the short term with co-management. Other issues in the bill are to allow current leases to be recognised and to amend the prohibition section to require licences to be granted prior to undertaking a range of activities. The bill, I understand, has been agreed to by the Wilderness Advisory Committee and is supported by the conservation sector.

Minister Caica indicated in his second reading speech of 31 October in the House of Assembly that a number of conservation parks and national parks are awaiting becoming wilderness protection areas following the passing of this legislation, so my first question to the minister is whether he can advise which of those parks are under consideration as indicated. The two questions which arose in the briefing related to fees and what has been proposed. The final question is: what is the status of the Wildlife Conservation Fund? With those remarks, I will support the bill.