Natural Heritage Trust of Australia

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (19:02): I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I want to say a few words on the Natural Heritage Trust of AustraliaReport for 2007-08. Again I raise the point that this report deals with activitiesin this case of the Natural Heritage Trustwhich occurred three financial years ago. Unless they have been in this place for as long as I have, people would probably not remember the activities of the Natural Heritage Trust back in 2007-08. I simply cannot understand why the Gillard government takes three years to table a report

Senator McLucas: How long does it take you to respond to the report of the state and territory disability

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Crossin ): Order, Senator McLucas! Senator Macdonald, please continue.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Thank you. I did not quite get the interjection, but no doubt the interjection was made in embarrassment by a member of the government front bench over the lack of accountability of this government in reporting to parliament. This report for 2007-08 is really a report on the final years of the Howard government. It is up to the following government to get the report in, and that is why it is so late coming.

Having a look at the report brought back some nostalgia, some recollection of the good times for serious environment groups and conservation in our country. Reading this report demonstrates just what the Natural Heritage Trust did in a genuine way for Australia's environment and natural resources.

I want to pay credit to the advisory committee of the Natural Heritage Trust. Unfortunately, I do not have the document in front of me. I wanted to actually name those who were on the advisory committee at the time. It is a significant list of very prominent Australians who gave their time to assist in the natural resource management of Australia. The work they did in those days showed a genuine commitment to natural resource managementsomething that, I am disappointed to say, has almost disappeared under the Gillard and Rudd governments.

I have now, thanks to the attendants, got the report before me. I want to particularly thank Sir James Hardy, who was chair of the advisory committee back in 2007-08, and the board members: Professor Peter Cullen, who has, regrettably, passed away; Ms Diane Tarte; Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick; Ms Pam Green; Mr Geoff Gorrie; Professor Bob Beaton; Mrs Roberta 'Bobbie' Brazil; Ms Melissa George; and Mr Kim Keogh. All are significant Australians who made a significant contribution to the management of our natural resources.

This report deserves more attention than I am able to give it in the couple of minutes I have. I note, however, that the Auditor-General commented on this report. That Auditor-General's report is dated 4 September 2008. Unfortunately, this report is not dated. It is for 2007-08, but the Auditor-General saw it in September 2008 and it has taken almost three years for the Gillard government to get this report before the parliament. ow can the Gillard government claim any accountability or respect for parliament when it takes three years for a very simple report, dealt with by the Auditor-General three years ago, to get before this parliament It is almost like reading old history. I would have liked to talk more about this report today but time will prevent me from doing so. Perhaps the only point I can really make, apart from congratulating those who were on the advisory board at the time, is to emphasise again the lack of accountability of the Gillard government. They have no interest in the environment, no interest in conservation and no interest in natural resource management.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Crossin ): Senator Macdonald, your time has expired.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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