Queensland parliament today passed amendments to cut red tape and increase protection of the state’s national parks, to further build the state’s four pillar economy and get Queensland back on track.
National Parks Minister Steve Dickson said the Newman Government was continuing to deliver upon its election commitments to reduce red tape and conserve natural and cultural resources through theNature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2013.
“These amendments mean our national parks and other natural areas can be managed more effectively, bringing the Act into the 21st Century to make it easier, faster and less costly to respond to change when it occurs,” Mr Dickson said.
“We’re drastically cutting red tape by reducing national park tenure categories within the Act from 14 to seven, including three types of tenure which have never actually been used.
“Now tenures will be streamlined into two main categories– national parks and regional parks.
“Additionally, the object of the Act has been expanded to recognise the involvement of indigenous people in the management of protected areas for the first time; as well as the social, cultural and commercial use of protected areas by the wider community.”
Mr Dickson said importantly the amendments would provide the government with civil immunity coverage within Queensland’s parks and forests, while still remaining responsible for the structures it builds and maintains and for injuries to its employees in the course of their work.
“These changes to the Act remove the State’s liability for incidents in nature, but ensure that people remain safe on the structures we provide to experience and enjoy parks,” he said.
“At a time when the Government wants to encourage people to use our parks we are also being exposed to record levels of personal injury claims. These measures are a practical response to this trend.”
Mr Dickson said the cardinal principle – that national parks should be managed to preserve and protect an area’s natural condition and values – would be preserved under the changes.
“National parks will continue to be managed around the conservation of their natural and cultural resources however these amendments also acknowledge educational, recreational and ecotourism opportunities.
“Mining, logging, recreational shooting and open slather grazing on national parks will remain strictly prohibited
“The bill also provides greater flexibility through the introduction of special management areas which allow particular sections of national park to be allocated for scientific or management related activities.”
Mr Dickson said most protected areas would now be required to have a simple and effective management statement rather than costly and time-consuming management plans.
“Management statements are easily adapted to respond to emerging issues and can be developed rapidly to guide how the park is managed.
“These amendments are another step in our commitment to streamline legislation and improve access to our national parks so Queenslanders and visitors alike can appreciate all that our spectacular national parks have to offer.”