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States Grants (Nature Conservation) Amendment Bill 1976



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States Grants (Nature Conservation) Amendment Bill 1976 (Bills Digest 26, 1976-77) Electronic version created by the Law and Bills Digest Section, Parliamentary Library, 2007.

Warning: This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA

THE PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY

STATES GRANTS (NATURE CONSERVATION) AMENDMENT BILL

Date Introduced: 21 October 1976

House: Representatives

Presented by: The Honourable K. E. Newman

Short Digest of Bill

Whereas the 1973-74 and 1974-75 Budgets contained appropriations to the States of $0.5 million and $9 million respectively for the purposes of land acquisition for nature conservation, no payments in fact occurred in either of those years. This unfortunate situation was brought about by a relatively slow rate of agreement between Federal and State Governments. Although part of the backlog was reduced in 1975-76 with payments totalling $1.268 million, a further $3.2 million has been budgeted for nature conservation grants to States in 1976-77 in order to meet previous commitments.

In addition, the Federal Government is expanding its role by assisting the States to finance management and facilities of State parks, commencing with a grant of $75,000 to Tasmania-for management costs associated with the South-West wilderness area. But since the States Grants (Nature Conservation) Act 1974 makes no allowance for contributions to anything but land acquisition, an important amendment, the States Grants (Nature Conservation) Amendment Bill 1976, has been introduced. The Amendment Bill in no way limits the scope of the original Act, but in fact makes it more flexible for both Canberra and the States since assistance may now be obtained for any “programs connected with nature conservation (Clause 2, paragraph (b)). This emphasises that land acquisition is only one expense involved with a State park; land use surveys, administration, research, etc., are also very expensive and may indeed hinder the setting up of parks.

The States grants method of acquiring and maintaining new parks should not be confused with two other approaches to nature conservation employed by the previous Federal Government. In 1974-75, for example, a sum of $4.3 million was spent on direct Commonwealth acquisition under the Budgetary heading “Environmental and Conservation Programs”. Although no further payments of this nature have been made since 1974-75, the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service has still the statutory power to create parks and reserves under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1974. With regard to present government policy towards the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, however, it is considered unlikely that the Commonwealth will continue direct acquisition of land. The budget of the Service has been reduced by three-quarters since 1975-76, while the government has promised a review of the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Defence, Science and Technology 1 November, 1976