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Monday, 26 May 2003
Page: 14902

Ms LIVERMORE (4:57 PM) —From what I heard in the speech by the member for Cowper, it appears that the way he is approaching this announcement by the Carr government is nothing more than scaremongering on his part. Let us remember that the announcement made recently by the Carr government was in fact keeping an election promise that was made very public during the last campaign, only a couple of months ago. I remind the member for Cowper and his National Party colleagues that the result of that election campaign was that the Carr government was re-elected with an overwhelming majority and given great support by the people of New South Wales. That support came in response to very heavy campaigning around these sorts of environmental issues, so it is clear that the Carr government has a mandate for the decisions it is taking in putting these measures in place.

It was a very significant announcement by the Carr government. The idea of the announcement is to protect the remaining forest icons in north-east New South Wales while ensuring sufficient timber to maintain long-term supply agreements and industry jobs. The announcement that was made recently is all about keeping the government's election commitment. That commitment will protect the remaining forest icons in north-east New South Wales, and that will protect virtually all old-growth forests on public land. This level of protection is unparalleled in Australia.

Areas to be transferred include Wollumbin, which adjoins the Mount Warning National Park and protects rainforest, including the World Heritage listed Amaroo rainforest and old-growth; the Whian Whian forest; Chaelundi, which will add to one of the largest areas of old-growth forests left in north-east New South Wales and is an important habitat for the tiger quoll, the powerful owl and the sooty owl; Little Wonder, which will act as an important corridor to link the New England wilderness area and Dungirr National Park, protect old-growth and rainforest and act as an important habitat for the powerful owl, the tiger quoll and the giant barred frog; and Jilliby, which will protect 40 threatened and significant fauna species such as koalas, the long-nosed potoroo and yellow-bellied and squirrel gliders. I guess the point I am making by listing those areas of forest is to spell out just how significant that announcement is and that it is about protecting forest icons in New South Wales.

Of course it goes beyond just the aesthetics. The government's moves will significantly improve the level of protection of biodiversity within the north-east reserve system, including the protection of threatened or regionally significant plant and animal species and the protection of forest ecosystems, rainforest and old-growth. This announcement is very significant. It is part of the Carr government's very serious commitment to the environmental protection required in his state. I again remind members opposite that these promises, made during the election campaign, were given resounding support by the public of New South Wales.

I would also like to go over some of the other commitments from the Carr government which just go to show that this is a government that has demonstrated the ability to work cooperatively with industry, environment groups and the primary industry sector to come up with ways of getting the best outcome for all these sectors. One of the great examples of the Carr Labor government is the Sustainable Energy Development Authority which, through its partnership approach with industry and environment groups, has delivered new industry sectors in the renewables area that have led to more jobs. In fact, SEDA has fantastic figures. Since 1996, the work of SEDA and its business partners has attracted $620 million in investment in New South Wales.

The Carr Labor government has also worked very cooperatively with scientists from the Wentworth Group, landholders in New South Wales and environmental groups to come up with cooperative approaches to halting land clearing and improving the salinity situation in that state. The Carr government has a proud record of these sorts of partnerships, and I think it is purely scaremongering on the part of the members opposite today to suggest that this will not continue in the forest industry. Quite apart from that, it is a significant environmental measure from the Carr government and should be applauded. (Time expired)