Photo © Doreen Payne
The recently elected Newman Government certainly has given the structure of the Public Service of Queensland a new and different look. Wildlife Queensland, as did many organisations, pondered what the structure under the Newman Government may look like.
On Tuesday 3 April when the Governor, Penelope Wensley, declared the new offices and appointed the respective Ministers of the new Newman Government, change certainly stared us in the face. Change always occurs with any new Government. However the Machinery of Government and the Administrative Arrangements Order certainly make for some apparent strange bed fellows.
National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing appear on the surface an unusual grouping. National Parks are the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation and that is the cardinal principle of management. Passive recreation pursuits, such as camping, bush walking, bird watching, photography and even rock climbing are appropriate in places but they are secondary to the primary purpose. The linking to recreation, sport and racing appears on the surface to be unusual. It was interesting to note that wildlife did not get a mention in the machinery of government but as the Nature Conservation Act is the relevant legislation it is assumed that wildlife falls into this Department.
One wonders why the Hon. Andrew Cripps, Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, is making the statements about flying foxes if wildlife is under Hon. Steve Dickson. Hon Andrew Powell, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, is charged with the responsibility of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Granted it is the only World Heritage Listed property in Queensland with its own legislation but it comprises over 90% national parks. Wildlife Queensland is led to believe the other World Heritage listed properties in Queensland are under the care of the Hon. Steve Dickson.
Photo © Doreen Payne
On the surface the environment and its component parts appear to be spread across at least five departments: Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Environment and Heritage Protection, Natural Resources and Mines, Energy and Water Supply and National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. Other Departments such as such as Main Roads and Transport, and even Local Government have significant impacts on the environment. Perhaps this is a good thing and there may be a whole of government focus on the environment.
Arrangements are of little concern to Wildlife Queensland - however the management of the environment, and the conservation and protection of our wildlife and its habitat certainly is of concern. Time will tell how our biodiversity and the environment fare under the Newman Government.
Update - 1 May 2012
Contrary to the advice provided by the office of Hon Steve Dickson, MP, Minister for National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing on 10 April, wildlife off park is now the responsibility of Hon Andrew Powell, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection. Management of wildlife on parks appears to remain with the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. Also all World Heritage Listed Properties come under Minister Powell. This is interesting as the majority of land holdings within the World Heritage Listed Properties are national parks. It appears that biodiversity is also with Minister Powell yet it is well recognised that the cornerstone of protection of biodiversity is the national park system. Granted there is a place for passive recreation on national parks but according to current legislation the prime purpose national parks is protection of our flora and fauna and ecological services.
Other changes of note is that the Queensland Herbarium is in the Department of Science, IT, Innovation & Arts under Minister Ros Bates. There is some degree of logic in this arrangement but there may be considerable disadvantages unless agreements are in place across Departments and the botanical knowledge required to inform a range of activities can be accessed. However Wildlife Queensland wonders if such a move indicates a refocussing of functions within the herbarium.
Biosecurity Queensland is located in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry with the Minister being Hon John McVeigh . This is not unexpected. There are a number of valid reasons for Biosecurity Queensland to be located in this Department. Wildlife Queensland’s concerns are: will economic criteria win out against environmental concerns in some situations and threats to the natural environment be adequately resourced?
This is the best information available. However Wildlife Queensland has been informed that some changes of a minor nature may still occur.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland's activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us an email.