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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 31006

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (5:48 PM) —I thank the parliamentary secretary for her assurances in relation to that issue and look forward to being provided with appropriate information in due course. I have one final matter I wish to raise. That concerns the Daintree and the wet tropics World Heritage area and in particular the recent decision by the Douglas Shire Council to enact a temporary local planning instrument designed to stop the development of freehold blocks which have not yet had development applications.

As the parliamentary secretary and others here will know, the Daintree lowlands is within the wet tropics World Heritage area. It is an area with a fantastic wealth of biodiversity; it has, I understand, the highest number of endemic primitive plants in the world; and it is very significant in nature based tourism. Unfortunately, areas of the Daintree lowlands have been sold off which, if developed, would prejudice the value of that World Heritage area and add to threats to endangered species, including the cassowary.

I believe that the Douglas Shire Council temporary local planning instrument is a very far-sighted thing and I welcome the step which the shire council has taken. In enacting the temporary instrument they have talked about a need for financial contributions not only from the council themselves—and they are prepared to do that—but also from the state and federal governments to bring about a more permanent and sustainable solution which protects the Daintree World Heritage area.

I understand the state government has been prepared to contribute its proposed $5 million share of the money required. I urge the federal government to contribute the $5 million which they have been asked to contribute to bring about a more permanent solution. My questions to the parliamentary secretary are: I assume the government are aware of the action taken by the Douglas Shire Council, so do they support the temporary local planning instrument, and are they prepared to contribute the $5 million which is needed in order to bring about a more permanent outcome to resolve some of the more unfortunate development and planning decisions which have been made in the past?