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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 8042


Senator McLUCAS (QueenslandParliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers) (19:10): I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

First of all, I commend the chair of the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Associate Professor Peter Valentine, and all members of the authority's board for the enormous work that they put into managing this World Heritage asset that we have in Far North Queensland. In doing that, I also pay tribute to Andrew Maclean, who is the Executive Director of the authority, and his staff for the enormous work that they do in preserving and presenting our Wet Tropics World Heritage area.

The report as usual is an excellent report and provides a great summary of what has been achieved in the past 12 months. The Wet Tropics Management Authority has an international duty for the protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the area. It does that very well. In the report Associate Professor Valentine refers to quite a number of highlights. I would like to bring some of those to the Senate's attention. Firstly, the work the authority is doing on building landscape resilience in the Atherton tablelands is significant. It is working very closely with James Cook University, which has identified this landscape in research as being 'particularly important as a cool climate refuge against the risk of global warming'. Senators may be aware that the wet tropics rainforest area goes from the coast, where the rainforest meets the reef, to some very high areas in Far North Queensland. Already we are seeing the effects of climate change on those quite high areas where, in particular, the lemuroid possum has not been identified in an area where it was seen regularly. That is attributed to the effects of climate change that are happening right now.

I also bring to the Senate's attention the work the authority is doing in presenting the World Heritage Area to the world. The authority has identified that for many years there has been no central focus for the orientation of visitors to the north so that they can understand the hugeness of the area and the diversity of landscapes in that area. The authority has now secured a grant from the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation that will assist in the preparation of a pre-feasibility study for a World Heritage gateway to Cairns. That is to be commended. Because the area of the wet tropics ranges from Paluma, just north of Townsville, in the south almost to Cooktown, it is important that there is an entrance and some central point where people can get a broader understanding of the diversity of the area. The authority is also very keen for that work to point to other World Heritage Areas in Australia and around the world. It would be terrific if we could get that through the feasibility stage.

I also commend the authority for the work it is doing on building quality in the guiding industry. Our guiding industry is growing well, even though we have had a bit of a downturn following the global financial crisis. The authority is doing some terrific work on developing standards for guides and guiding so that potentially we will be able to credit guides in the future. The authority in that respect is working with the Queensland Tourism Industry Council to advance that work, and I think that will be a great asset to the north.

In conclusion, I would like to recognise the enormous amount of work that the authority is doing with the Indigenous people of Far North Queensland and North Queensland. The authority is assisting the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people to return to country. As I have said on many occasions in this place, I look forward to the time when we relist the Wet Tropics World Heritage area for its Indigenous values along with its environmental values.

Finally, I thank outgoing directors, Ms Allison Halliday, Mr Russell Butler and Dr Elaine Harding, for the work they have done in guiding the authority's work. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.