Environment bill will not be pushed: Edwards

28 May, 2003 10:00 PM
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THE PGA met with Environment Minister Judy Edwards recently to voice concerns over the State Government's Environmental Protection Amendment Bill 2002.

According to PGA natural resource management director David Klemm, Mrs Edwards said she had not given instructions to push the bill through the Upper House.

He said Mrs Edwards also gave an undertaking to take a personal interest in other issues raised at the meeting, such as water rights and land clearing.

"We had a very positive meeting with the Minister and reached some extremely good milestones with her," he said.

"We take the Minister at her word that the bill will not be rammed though the Upper House."

Mr Klemm said that Mrs Edwards also indicated the bill would not be withdrawn despite the huge number of amendments, which recently went to a standing committee.

Mr Klemm, a former parliamentary information officer, said the fact the bill had been drafted 24 times and had 137 amendments (with more being added) was proof the bill should be drawn up again from scratch.

"The government indicates flexibility but acts with intransigence," he said.

Mr Klemm said the standing committee's job had been to match up amendments with appropriate sections of the bill, which was why no public input had been invited.

He said the poor drafting of the bill was not entirely the fault of past and present governments.

"My own view is that there is a problem within the department," he said. "Some people want to achieve their own ends and have that expressed in legislation."

He said the PGA appreciated the government handed down the committee report on May 16, before Parliament went into two-week recess.

Mr Klemm said that under some of the rulings in the bill, one PGA member would not be able to water livestock at a swamp because it had bullrushes in it.

Meanwhile native vegetation protection program manager Alex Marsden recently wrote a letter to Farm Weekly (April 17) saying that clearing for fence lines would be exempt from a clearing permit.

However, Mr Klemm said this was only for fencelines that had already been cleared.

He did not believe the bill would go to another standing committee and that the amendments would probably be dealt with under normal standing orders.

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