Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5011


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (15:04): My question is to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Will the minister update the House on the government's response to the request from the Queensland Premier for a handover on various environmental powers?

Mr BURKE (WatsonMinister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) (15:04): I thank the member for Moreton for the question and the strong interest he is taking in environmental issues in Queensland. It has been the position of this government for some time, since we issued our response to the Hawke review on national environmental law reform, that if you can—without reducing the national standards of environmental law—have more of the referrals being done at a state level, then you can achieve the same environmental outcomes without increasing the burden on business. We have argued for a year that it is the right thing to do and our amendments that we will be bringing into the parliament will reflect that.

Notwithstanding that, the Queensland Premier has gone further and has been demanding that these things be done immediately. He has also been demanding that he become the enforcer of national environmental powers at the COAG meeting. Well, it only took a fortnight after that before he went from saying he wanted to enforce national environmental law to wanting to tear it down. From time to time, people will ridicule environmental protections for endangered species when it is a species no-one has ever heard of, when it is something that if you saw it in your garden you would think was a weed, when it is some sort of thrice-mutated frog. But only the Queensland National Party could say that an obscure species unworthy of protection was going by the name 'koala'. Only the Queensland National Party would be able to say, 'Well, we are just going too far if we going to protect the koala under national environmental law.'

So I say to the Queensland Premier, if he still wants to have a go at taking on and getting rid of some of the processing times, which we believe should happen—I wrote more than a week ago to my counterpart, the Queensland environment minister, as I did to the other states' environment ministers, and said there is one species where the delays have caused immense pain and annoyance for communities. Many members of parliament here on both sides of the House, notably the member for Kennedy, have complained for a long time about the impact of flying foxes when they are in urban communities, when they are in schools, when they are in hospitals, when they are in parks. There is a limited period each year when you can relocate them, and every day that you delay that with processing times makes the problem worse. It ends up with communities being saddled with these problems.

I have written to the Queensland government saying, 'If you want this power on flying foxes, let's agree, and agree quickly, through a conservation agreement'—not a word in response. It is one thing to spend all your time grandstanding, but if he actually wants these powers it is time to play, to sign the document instead of just writing media releases, and to get an outcome that the people of Queensland can benefit from.

Mr Katter: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have been misrepresented.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Kennedy can resume his seat. He can seek to do that after question time.