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Transcript
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

Interview with John Faine 'Morning program', ABC Melbourne 774 AM

Monday, 25 July 2005

Coastal development


Presenter:
The Federal Government has been conducting a sea change taskforce.

They've been having a look at what laws exist all around Australia to try to protect our coastline from over-development.

They've come up apparently with a most novel suggestion - local council and state governments should hand over control of coastal development to the Commonwealth. Senator Ian Campbell is the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in the Federal Government, Senator good morning.

Senator campbell:
Good morning.

Presenter:
Is this a grab for power?

Senator campbell:
Well I don't think anyone…certainly I haven't suggested that. What I have suggested, however, is that with this sort of one-year-at-a-time, development approval-at-a-time approach, what's occurred in the last 30 years is that we've chewed up hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres of our coast, and if we repeat it again in the next 30 years, then it simply won't be recognisable as Australia's coast, which I think is one of our most important environmental assets.

Presenter:
…centralised planning body…

Senator campbell:
I don't know who's talking about a centralised planning authority, it's certainly not me. What I'm talking about is getting local and state governments to work co-operatively with the Commonwealth to put in place a plan for the whole of our coasts - not just suburb by suburb, development by development - and certainly if the state and local governments don't want to do that, then it'll be their right, I'm not talking about taking away any one of their powers at all. All I'm saying is the Commonwealth does have some powers on the coast. I'd like to coordinate the use of those powers in a cooperative, sensible, 30-year plan for the whole of our coast, but I stress cooperative, no one, the least of all me, has talked about taking away their powers. You can't - constitutionally, the states run land management. That's the way it is, that's the way it should be, but we've had in the last 30 years, a massive, unprecedented destruction of our coastal environment, it's a limited resource, the population of Australia is going to expand rapidly in the next 30 years.

Presenter:
But who says the Commonwealth is going to do anything to stop that? I can think of a half a dozen examples off the top of my head where the degradation of the coastal environment has been because of the Commonwealth, rather than anything else

Senator campbell:
No, what I'm saying is…

Presenter:
We just had to have a huge battle against the Commonwealth to preserve coastal environments down at Portsea, down at the heads here, where the Commonwealth wanted development and the state and local government had to fight like hell to stop it.

Senator campbell:
What I'm saying is that we've got a population where about 85 per cent of us live within 50 kilometres of the coast, 25 per cent live between three kilometres of the coast. That population's going to expand, the coast is a very limited resource, they're not making any more of it, and if we as a nation work together to have a long-term 30-year vision for that coast, we can save it. If we don't, if we go along the way that we've been going in the last 30 years, it won't be there, it will be unrecognizable, it'll be massively degraded, and I don't believe that the current arrangements are strong enough to save that coast. I think working at the three levels of government where you actually have a national vision for that coast, not just a burrow-by-burrow, shire-by-shire approach, is working.

Presenter:
Minister, what would stop it from being lowest common denominator regulation? Whenever the Commonwealth tries to centralise control, whether it's coastal development or the defamation reform, it doesn't matter what we're talking about, it always ends up being lowest common denominator.

Senator campbell:
Well firstly I don't think we want to centralise it because you may well have lowest common denominator. What we want to do is create best practices where we're working for example with the local authorities down at Geelong, to work on a model where it might work, where you can actually delineate where the Commonwealth's powers are - for example when it comes to migratory birds and threatened species and so forth, look at what the local government wants to achieve. They will know best what their population forecasts are and so forth, work at a regional level with states and put in place an integrated plan.

Presenter:
Well I'm sure we'll be thinking about it for a long time to come, thank you for kicking off the debate - Senator Ian Campbell, who is the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage.

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