Restoring key protections in our nature conservation legislation

Published Tuesday, 27 October, 2015 at 02:58 PM

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
The Honourable Steven Miles

The Palaszczuk Government today took the crucial first step in re-introducing conservation safeguards into legislation covering the state’s significant protected areas, including national parks.

Minister for National Parks Dr Steven Miles said the proposed changes would ensure “conservation’’ was once again the sole purpose of the state’s nature conservation laws, which were undermined by the previous government.

Dr Miles this afternoon (Tuesday) introduced the Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 in Parliament.

He said the proposed changes were critical in delivering on the government’s commitment to ensure the greatest possible protection of national park estate, providing permanent preservation of natural conditions and protection of cultural resources and values.

“The Bill reinstates the conservation of nature as the sole object of the Nature Conservation Act, so national park land is treated primarily as land for conservation,” Dr Miles said.

“The use of national parks will be compatible with the primary purpose of the legislation, unlike the previous government’s open slather approach.

“These are public assets. They are used and enjoyed by the public and the previous government treated them as though they were merely the property of the Minister.

“The previous government’s approach to management of national parks showed the lack of respect for which they became well-known,’’ he said.

Dr Miles said the Bill also provided enhanced protection for nine national parks with special values.

“The Bill will reinstate the national parks (scientific) class of protected area,” Dr Miles said.

“Unique places such as Raine Island (north-north-west of Cairns) where thousands of turtles come to lay their eggs each year would once again be elevated to the highest level of protection.”

In addition, Dr Miles said rolling term leases for grazing on national parks would be removed under legislative changes.

“Rolling term leases on national parks would be reverted back to term leases so that appropriate decisions can be made about the future use and management of these areas,” Dr Miles said.

“The change will not impact on the existing rights of the landholder under their current lease, including the term, conditions and authorised use.

The State Government consulted widely about the proposed changes with conservation groups.

The National Parks Association of Queensland (NPAQ) today welcomed the Palaszczuk Government “reinstating the conservation of nature as the sole goal of the Nature Conservation Act’.

NPAQ principal advocate, Paul Donatiu, said the return of National Park (Scientific) and Conservation Park categories also “ensured conservation is at the heart of the NCA’.

"NPAQ strongly supports the return to public consultation with national park management plans,’ Mr Donatiu said.

"NPAQ strongly commends the State Government for seeking to restore the Nature Conservation Act to its primary principles."

Dr Miles said the government would continue to listen to stakeholders about their concerns over the previous government’s attack on core protections in the State’s nature conservation legislation.



Media: 0412 393 909