Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002
Parliamentary Record 9
Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 27 November 2002 Mr Henderson: You want the photos? Mr VATSKALIS: We have the photos - that is a very good comment. Madam Speaker, I note the concerns of the member for Drysdale about the terms of reference for the establishment of an EPA and the cane toads. With regards to the EPA, I think it is a very good way to go. Lets find out first of all if we need anything. Do we have to go through the process, the expenditure, to establish the EPA? It does not matter what I personally believe; I personally believe we want an EPA, we need an EPA, but lets find out if we really need an EPA. What is the point of actually starting an organisation that can cost millions of dollars, another bureaucratic structure, if at the end we do not need it? But, lets find out about it. The committee consists of three members of the government, an Independent and two members of the opposition. It is up to them to work together and to come to a decision, yes or no, we need it or we do not need an EPA. Also, how are we going to implement an EPA? How are we going to put an EPA into place? How are we going to persuade the mining industry and all the other interests of the need for an EPA and how well they can work with an EPA? There has been 20 years of scaremongering about how an EPA is going to destroy them and put restrictions in place. We have used an EPA. The previous government used an EPA - not in the Territory, there isnt one - but they used the Western Australian Environmental Protection Agency to pick their brains about the establishment of noise legislation. I know that very well because I was part of that process. We went to Western Australia and asked for their assistance to draft our own noise legislation and that legislation is going to be introduced very soon as part of the environmental pollution process. I do not know much about cane toads, but I know what I read in the media. I have read some information during my studies, and I believe the same applies to the member for Johnston. I do not know about nuclear energy but I can understand what nuclear energy is. I can understand where it comes from and what it causes. I do not have to be an expert, I do not have to be a scientist. I only have to have common-sense and understand what I read. Cane toads are a problem, we know that much. Since they were introduced in 1935 they have become one of the worst environmental nightmares in Australia. At the moment we do not have a way to defend the Australian environment against the cane toads - the physical environment, the fauna and the flora. There has been research done by the CSIRO, by scientists in Queensland, and yes, by Bill Freeland when he was working for Parks and Wildlife. But, at the same time, just because Bill Freeland wrote something it does not mean that it is the gospel. You can ask Dr Graeme Webb and he will give you a different opinion. I am very well aware that currently out in Kakadu, there are scientists telling us to wave goodbye to the northern quoll because it is going to disappear in the next year or two. Bill Freeland had a theory that the wildlife will suffer in the beginning but then it will bounce back. There is another scientist who says to us, No, it will not bounce back. The northern quoll is going to disappear. There are many examples. How many Australian species and especially Territory species have disappeared because we interfered with the environment, either through the fire regimes or change of the fire regimes, or through the introduction of different plants, different farming techniques, or the introduction of cattle? Just because one scientist says This is going to happen, it does not mean it is going to happen that way. There are too many factors that you cannot consider unless you do extensive research. I found it very curious to hear the member for Drysdale saying that we might find a way to exterminate the cane toads. Cane toads have been here for the past two or three years; how much money did you put into cane toad research? How much money did you actually offer to the CSIRO to come back with a solution? I cannot remember any headlines saying, The CLP government is offering $lm to save Kakadu or to save the Territory. The only thing I remember is cane toads will come here in 2007. Two years ago in Katherine we were kicking cane toads around. Now, do not tell me that you did not know about that - you simply ignored it. You put your hands up - cane toads are coming here, there is nothing we can do about it and lets live with them. This environment committee is going to look into that, and it is up to you, the members of the committee, to come to us with solutions because you are the members. The parliament entrusts you to be a member of the committee, get together and work together efficiently and come back to us with some solutions, some suggestions. We will be here to listen to you and if they are good suggestions, we are prepared to accept them. It does not matter if they come from this side of the House or from the Independent or from the other side of the House. This is a very good start and I hope that the outcome will be even better. I hope there will be an EPA in place in years to come. Mr WOOD (Nelson): Madam Speaker, I might just preface my remarks with a couple of things that 3064
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