Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002

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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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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 27 November 2002 the minister said and also just one thing I believe might need some clarification and that is we now have two ministers to deal with the environment. It would be perhaps the time ... Ms Lawrie: No. One with Environment and one with Parks. M r WOOD: We have a Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Environment and a Minister for the Office of Environment and Heritage. Madam SPEAKER: I think you will find the minister is just Lands and Planning, no longer Environment. Ms Lawrie: Infrastructure and Planning. M r WOOD: I do not want to challenge your ruling, Madam Speaker, but there was reference earlier to Environment still existing in that ministers department. Perhaps there should be a clarification. Dr Burns: I will address that. M r WOOD: Anyway, it was just a query. It would be worth clarifying the role, if an Environmental Protection Agency is established, of an independent office of Environment and Heritage. That needs to be looked at. Of course, I have always been concerned that we really should have had one Department of Environment which is inclusive of environmental sections of other departments. That would make a lot more sense. Mines and Energy comes to mind straight away. Their environmental section should have been part of that one larger Environment entity. One other thing that becomes a bit disappointing as an Independent is that sometimes there are good amendments - 1 am not talking about the amendment that just happened - but sometimes there are good ideas that come up for discussion in this House. It seems that one side decides that the sins of the past can be cited and therefore judgement is made because something was not right by the opposition when they were in power. I would rather see these issues dealt with on their merits at this time, not because of what happened in previous times. Sometimes I am worried that issues are not dealt with on their merit because politics gets in the road. That is something I make a note of today. I support the motion that the Minister for Environment and Heritage has moved. I know one particular group that will be very happy to see this, and that would be the Environment Centre. People like Kirstin and Mark who work very hard for the environment - 1 do not always agree with them, but I think they are honest, hard working people who do a lot of work to put environmental issues into the public arena. They have been pushing for this for a long time, and I hope it does come to fruition. On the second issue of cane toads, they are important and they are as inevitable as taxes and death at the moment. Whether we can do anything about them remains to be seen. To some extent, the two issues that we are dealing with I would call soft issues to a point because they are certainly not controversial in the public arena. I would be interested to know what the reaction would be if we tackled issues like the environmental effects of industrialisation of the harbour, or if we decided to take on issues like the spread of the neem tree. Neem trees have been introduced to the Territory as a good idea. They are supposed to be an organic insecticide, yet I gather they are spreading along the Katherine and Victoria Rivers. I know they are a valuable timber, but they are a potential disaster in some parts of the Territory unless someone keeps and eye on the situation. Mission grass and gamba grass are two introduced species. Both species have the potential to change the whole landscape of parts of the Top End because they are fire hazards. One was introduced privately as a class of species; the other was introduced and, I think even now, is still allowed to be used as long as it is used for pastures. When there is no cattle chewing on gamba grass, it spreads. It is an area that government must look at seriously and to some form of biological control for those grasses. An issue I raised earlier that needs looking at, and it would be good to get either an EPA to look at it or even a sessional committee, and that is what is happening with the rehabilitation of extractive mining sites. There is a large area of the Litchfield Shire covered in these extractive mining sites. I do not say that they all should be brought back to their original status. Of course they cannot be. In some cases, the land might be able to be used for a dual purpose. People know how mangoes grow in some of the worst country. You can go down to Pine Creek and you will see them growing on old mining sites. Perhaps the potential is there for dual use of the land. These are some of the issues that could be looked at. I know from some of my visits to places such as Kidman Springs, which is a government research station, erosion is fairly rampant in some of those areas. Another possibility could be issues such as stocking controls. In Western Australia they do have a stocking control. I do not know if it is legislation, but stations are given an average number of stock that they can hold, based on the potential of their 3065