Debates Day 3 - 16 August 2018
Parliamentary Record 14
Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Thursday 16 August 2018 4199 Arnhem, Johnston, Namatjira and Brennan all talked about non-government ranger groups and how important they are. They are engaged in discussions, partnerships and agreements with our department on a range of matters within our parks, as well as community volunteers. Our local Landcare groups, for example, and other community groups and users have agreements with the Department of Tourism and Culture through Parks and Wildlife. There are many ways in which that works. It can be very place-based and depend on the activities, which goes to the very heart of what we are talking about here, having the discretion to set up groups where necessary and not be mandated to do so in some circumstances. The Leader of the Opposition talked about the membership of the council and its expertise, and whether or not that was limiting and we should remove the definition about who is on the council. I am confident, given that the council is appointed by the minister with relevant interest, expertise or knowledge regarding the environment and the management of natural resources. The definition is quite broad and allows for discretion from the minister and for community members to be represented on that. I am quite confident about that. The Member for Braitling talked about the popular and beautiful parks around Central Australia, as did the Member for Namatjira. The Telegraph Station is an example of a beautiful part of the Territory. It is a peaceful, restorative place and one I try to get to whenever I am in Alice Springs. The Parks and Wildlife staff have done an incredible job engaging with the community and encouraging other users, such as the mountain bikers, through that park. We continue to invest in those bike paths and are looking to increase the footprint of that park. As the Member for Braitling also mentioned, our Turbocharging package also includes a $12m investment in a new adventure cycling trail from Alice to Glen Helen, something the people in Alice Springs are very excited about. We have received a lot of very good feedback about that. I can assure the member and the people of Central Australia that this project is well under way. More than 200 kilometres of new track is being defined, campground locations mapped, and options for high-end luxury accommodation scoped in conjunction with traditional owners. It is a great project. I am excited that the Member for Brennan outlined in his contribution that there might be an important conversation going on in his household that might lead to another fantastic female ranger in the Territory. That is such a fantastic employment opportunity across the Territory. All the things raised today are what the Parks and Wildlife Commission has been established to do, to make sure we continue to look after and foster the connection to country and recognise the importance of our parks and reserves to our social, cultural and economic fabric of the Northern Territory. These amendments are minor and straightforward, but they will help to ensure that underpinning legislation the principles keep up with current needs and expectations. Moving to the substance of these amendments, the Parks and Wildlife Commission Act provides for: a Commission to establish and manage, or assist in the management of, parks, reserves, sanctuaries and other land, to encourage the protection, conservation and sustainable use of wildlife, to establish a land-holding corporation in connection with those purposes, and for related purposes. Currently, the commission consists of the Chief Executive Officer and the Department of Tourism and Culture. Functions of the commission include participation in the management of parks and reserves established under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act and the promotion of the protection, conservation and sustainable use of wildlife, which includes plants and animals, throughout the Northern Territory. Section 41 of the act states that the minister must establish a council to advise the Parks and Wildlife Commission on matters concerning the management of parks and wildlife. Members must have an interest in, or expertise and knowledge in, matters relating to the environment and the management and conservation of natural resources. As has already been covered in the course of debate, in the past there were compelling reasons for requiring such an advisory council. There was not such a well-resourced Parks and Wildlife Commission and certainly not one supported by a department as large in scope, size or resources as the Department of Tourism and Culture. Also, there was not the range of science and community-based committees available to provide support and advice to Parks and Wildlife. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Parks and Wildlife Commission Act to allow the minister the discretion to appoint an advisory council, rather than the appointments being mandatory. It is a minor change but
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