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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

12 October 2000

New advice on environment protection

It has taken 200 years, but Australia is now acknowledging the partnership that is needed between all Australians, indigenous and non-indigenous, in protecting our natural environment.

Our most experienced indigenous land managers and representative experts from science, industry and conservation groups cam together today with the launch of two new advisory committees to help protect Australia's environment.

Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Robert Hill, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Dr Sharman Stone, officially launched the new Indigenous Advisory Committee and Biological Diversity Advisory Committee in Canberra today.

The two committees will provide advice on the effectiveness or performance of the Federal Government's new Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation ACT. Mr Gatjil Djerrkura is the inaugural chair of the Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) and Professor Hugh Possingham is the inaugural chair of the Biological Diversity Advisory Committee (BDAC).

"One key objective of the new Act is to promote a new, co-operative approach to the protection and management of our environment. The Indigenous and Biological Diversity Advisory Committee members have been selected on the basis of their professional and cultural knowledge and experience," Sharman Stone said.

Senator Hill said the new advisory committees to the EPBC Act would give Government expert, independent commentary to help advance environment protection.

"For instance, in the case of the Indigenous Advisory Committee, we have a group of land mangers who are on the ground dealing with environment issues day-to-day. They have skill in the areas of land management that will greatly enhance the operation of the new Act and give the Government a lead on wider natural resource issues," Senator Hill said.

The EPBC Act formally recognises the role of indigenous people in the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of Australia's biological diversity (biodiversity). The Act aims to promote the use of Indigenous people's knowledge of biodiversity with the involvement of, and in cooperation with, the owners of that knowledge.

The Indigenous Advisory Committee will advise the Minister on the operation of the EPBC Act, taking into account of Indigenous people's knowledge of the management of land and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The new Biological Diversity Advisory Committee (BDAC) will provide advice on the performance of Government legislation in promoting biodiversity conservation and the implementation of best practice business strategies to promote biodiversity.

Members of BDAC have been chosen from a wide range of areas and include representatives from science, business, local government, conservation organisations and industry.

"The commencement of the EPBC Act would not only deliver stronger environment protection but would also deliver a set of national environmental standards, more efficient and faster environmental assessments and approval processes and less red-tape duplication.

"The Advisory Committees will play an important role in helping the Government in these areas."

* Attached is a fact sheet on the three Advisory Committees to the EPBC Act and a list of participating members.

For further information please contact: Michael Christo 0409 040276.
12 October 2000

Commonwealth of Australia