Otway Ranges Environment Network



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Hansard for ALP Members of Parliament

The Otway Ranges Environment Network would like to applaud all Labor members of Parliament who stood up and spoke in support of the National Parks (Otways and other amendments) Bill. In total there were 29 ALP MP's who spoke on the Otways during the September sitting of Parliament.

OREN has only listed a few of the speeches. To read others speeches see Hansard for the 7th, 8th, 14th & 15th of September 2005.

Selected ALP Speeches

Lower House (Assembly)

Mr CRUTCHFIELD (South Barwon)
Ms NEVILLE (Bellarine)
Mr LONEY (Lara)
Mr TREZISE (Geelong)
Mr WYNNE (Richmond)
Mr JENKINS (Morwell)
Mr THWAITES (Minister for Environment)
Vote Assembly

Upper House(Council)

Ms CARBINES (Geelong)
Hon. J. G. HILTON (Western Port)
Vote Council

Activity Second Reading

Date 7 September 2005

Mr CRUTCHFIELD (South Barwon) -- It is with particular pleasure that I rise to speak on the National Parks (Otways and Other Amendments) Bill. Like the member for Polwarth I have an emotional attachment to this area. My parents and grandparents were brought up outside Colac and my electorate abuts that area -- the gateway to the Otways. The contribution from the member for Polwarth contained a number of anomalies. The most frightening were his comments about putting on the public record parts of this legislation he would rescind. That raises concerns about what he means.

He has not said which parts of the legislation he is talking about, but I can only go on some of the comments he has put on the record in the Colac Herald. On 18 August 2003 the Colac Herald reports that:

Member for Polwarth Terry Mulder has pledged the Liberal Party's support for the Otways timber industry at the next state election.

That means the opposition will support the timber industry in the Otways. The report further states:

Mr Mulder said the state government's decision to shut the Otways and create an expanded national park could be reversed.

I can only speculate on what he is talking about in terms of rescinding parts of the legislation. Is he talking about rescinding national parks legislation?

Mr Wynne -- Is it on the public record?

Mr CRUTCHFIELD -- Yes, it is on the public record. Is he talking about rescinding the forest part of the legislation? It flies in the face of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition's contribution when he indicated his support for the bill.

Mr Wynne -- There is a split.

Mr CRUTCHFIELD -- Yes, there is a split. Clearly the member for Polwarth has been rolled We have known for a long time about the member's opposition to a national park, and his opposition to the reduction of clear-fell logging in the Otways. He is a supporter of that. Our 2002 election policy outlined our intention to declare a Great Otway National Park and to reduce clear-fell logging by some 25 per cent.

We did that with Calco Timbers and Otways Hardwoods accepting a very generous contribution from the government to remove their licences, but Murnane's refused to do that. Murnane's has been on the record saying that the Liberal Party will support it at the next election to ensure that logging continues. Unfortunately, the member for Polwarth has led them down the garden path. Firstly, the Liberal Party will not get in at the next election, and secondly, clear-fell logging will not continue. I will remind my constituents of the member for Polwarth's view. There is a clear split in the Liberal Party.

I am again reminded about this consistent confusion with a report in the Colac Herald with the headline 'Liberal confusion over National Park'. It certainly appears from the comments of the very first two speakers for the Liberal Party that they have diametrically opposed views about the future of this legislation. The member for Polwarth is indicating he will rescind parts of the legislation.

Mr Mulder interjected.

Mr CRUTCHFIELD -- You did say 'rescind'; we will look at the Hansard. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition talked about an adequate level of resourcing. Members would have received the Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN) newsletter yesterday -- I hope every member in this place received it. I quote from the newsletter:

There was also a lot of criticism by anti-national park/pro-logging groups saying the state government would never make resources available to manage a new Otway National Park.

We have heard that here today. It goes on:

The state government has addressed these concerns before it formally announced the new national park.

OREN congratulates the government on its allocation of resources, not only its commitment made during the 2002 election campaign of $14 million over four years, which was used to pay out some of the licences, but also for some infrastructure issues that were referred to by a previous speaker. I note that on 26 July the Premier was in the electorate of Polwarth opening the first stage of the old Beechy line rail trail. That is another example, and I am sure members could quote numerous examples of additional resources both for infrastructure from a public point of view and infrastructure from a private point of view. The private sector has jumped onto the back of this government's initiative with significant investments to make this an environmental icon for Australia. I have been to the Cinque Terre National Park in Italy where there is a Great Ocean walk, beautiful beaches and mountainous areas. The Otways are very similar to the Cinque Terre and equally as marketable with its international tourist icons such as the Twelve Apostles and the Great Ocean Road. The Great Otway National Park fits into all these scenes, along with the marine national parks.

I want to refer again to the OREN newsletter. It thanks all those who supported the campaign to end clear-fell logging in the Otways and who supported the creation of a new expanded Great Otway National Park. I want to acknowledge Simon Birrell, whose energies from the mid-1990s led to the incorporation of OREN in 1996 and a formalising of the campaign to end clear-fell logging. In the 1980s, prior to Simon and OREN, Joan Linbos, from the Geelong Environment Council, and Trevor Prescott, from Field Nats, were regular contributors in terms of establishing a national park in that area. I thank them for their lobbying.

During the late 1990s OREN began its campaign in earnest both from a direct action campaign but as importantly with a very intellectual and energetic lobbying campaign. They began to lobby councils of which the City of Greater Geelong was one. I was a councillor at the time. They even lobbied the opposition. I know the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pretended to be sympathetic. He obviously has the numbers: he has rolled the member for Polwarth, because the opposition supports the national park. They focused on councils such as Surf Coast, Warrnambool and the City of Greater Geelong, which all supported their campaign to remove clear-fell logging from the Otways. There was a unanimity of political views on the City of Greater Geelong, with Liberal and Labor people supporting this. That thankfully seems to be echoed today.

It is not surprising that The Nationals oppose the bill, because they do not know the difference between a variegated fairy wren and a wedge-tailed eagle. If you moved them, you would shoot them!

On 6 November 2002 the Premier and the Minister for Environment made the historic announcement at Triplet Falls in the Otways. It was universally supported and all Geelong members of Parliament were there. I have fond memories of that election campaign. I have memories of Roger Hardley handing out pamphlets and monstering the Greens because they had not given their preferences to me in South Barwon -- confusingly so. OREN was there in an unapologetically partisan way. OREN had given the Liberal Party the opportunity of supporting the park, but when it refused to support a national park they campaigned accordingly. I was the beneficiary of that, and I thank them.

Finally, I want to thank a few other people from OREN. I have never experienced such raw emotion as that felt at the announcement on 10 June this year by the Premier and Minister Thwaites -- and a number of local members were present. It was tinged with happiness to a certain extent. There were grown men and women who were crying.

I know there is emotion on both sides of this debate, but on this occasion there was a lot of emotion by supporters of this park. It was a magnificent victory for OREN. I cannot mention everyone but I should thank Simon Birrell, Roger Hardley, Greg Hocking and Gerard Mullally. Their efforts will ensure that generations to come will enjoy the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles, the marine parks, the beaches and the Great Otway National Park. Well done!

Ms NEVILLE (Bellarine) -- I am very pleased to have the opportunity to offer my full and unconditional support to the National Parks (Otways and Other Amendments) Bill. This is a very good day for Victoria. I would like to acknowledge the representatives from the Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN), who are here in the gallery and who deserve congratulations on this bill being in the house today. For many years they have argued for the need to protect the Otways, and their efforts have been absolutely instrumental in achieving the establishment of the Great Otway National Park.

Since being elected in 2002 I have been amazed by how often we see those opposite hedging their bets.

We have had different views from different shadow ministers, and we saw it here today. They have given conditional support: 'We support it, but we do not like the process'. Even more clearly today we heard the member for Polwarth -- I think I wrote it down fairly accurately as he was saying it -- suggest that if this legislation had any negative outcomes for his community he would be pushing to amend it.

Mr Crutchfield -- 'Rescind'?

Ms NEVILLE -- No, he said 'amend'. But 'amend' includes a pretty broad range of options. You can pretty much rip out the intention of legislation by amending it. We have also heard a lot of concerns being raised about the concept of the Otway Forest Park, and I am wondering whether what we are seeing here is a way out for the Liberals.

If they did, amazingly, win the next election, there would be questions about whether they would extend the licences in the Otway Forest Park beyond 2008. On top of that we have also had regular comments from the federal member, Stewart McArthur, opposing the establishment of the national park. We probably do not need to worry too much about The Nationals, because they probably will not be in a position to do much after the next election. I think all Victorians need to be concerned about this strategy of the Liberal members to hedge their bets and not fully or unconditionally support the establishment of the Great Otway National Park.

As the member for South Barwon said, during the 2002 election the government made a commitment to Victorians and the residents of the Geelong region that it would establish this park and forever protect the Otways for our children. This bill realises that commitment. Despite the comments of the shadow Minister for Environment, this bill is the result of extensive community consultation.

It was a mandate from the election and through the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council process Victorians from across the area had an opportunity to comment. Overwhelmingly people support the outcomes in this bill.

For me there is no doubt that this decision has been one of the most important in securing Victoria's future. There is no doubt that what we are establishing here today will prove to be one of Australia's greatest national parks, and certainly one of the best assets in the Geelong region. Everyone who has travelled through the region, whether travelling down the Great Ocean Road, visiting the Otway Fly, going through the rainforest or doing the walks, is absolutely blown away

by the beauty and uniqueness of the area. I do not think you would see many people visit the area and see the areas that have been logged and not wonder how on earth anyone could do that and how anyone could allow it to occur.

In establishing the Great Otway National Park the government has clearly backed its decision with resources. Despite claims from the opposition, significant commitments have been made to ensure that we are able to manage the park in an ongoing way. In the last budget $13.1 million was allocated to support the establishment and ongoing management of this park. Additional staff will be employed to manage the park. We have also seen $7 million in tourism initiatives. These initiatives will be good for the whole region, not just for that particular area. Nick Hunt, the chief executive of the Tourism Alliance Victoria was quoted in the Geelong News as saying:

As far as the Geelong environment goes, it will be building on the strengths of not just the Otways but Geelong and the Bellarine region as well.

I know the residents of Bellarine, who were aware of this commitment during the election, are absolutely supportive of the outcomes achieved through this bill. I am proud to be a member of a government which has ensured the future of this extraordinary natural asset.

Why would we do this? What sums up why this is so important? I want to refer to some comments Simon Birrell made in the Bellarine Echo back in June of this year. He called this a gift to the children of the future. Roger Hardley said it was a victory for commonsense. We have not heard much of that today, but it is a victory for commonsense. As I said before, everyone who has visited the area and witnessed the effects of logging has been astounded that it has been allowed to occur -- everyone of any age, right across the spectrum.

I remember the postcards that were distributed prior to the last election. We had a picture on one side showing the beauty of the Otways and on the other side a picture showing the areas of the Otways that have been logged. There was a stark contrast.

I remember a good friend of my son -- a seven-year-old boy -- saw the postcard and said, 'Who would want to do that? Why would you not be supporting that?'. That summed it up. At that time we were able to say very clearly that we knew who was going to continue to do that -- the Liberal Party. They were very clear on record that they would continue to do that. It is unfortunate that even though they are offering their support today we still need to be concerned about whether members opposite will maintain that position after the next election.

In concluding I would like to cite the words of Mr Hardley, a representative of OREN, in the Geelong Advertiser when the announcement was made in June. He said:

This is really a day for those who campaigned for the Otways ...

This is really a day for the thousands of people who supported our campaign through the years.

Today is also their day. They fought the fight, they won the argument and they convinced us that this was the right thing to do. Unquestionably it was the right thing to do. I would like to reiterate the thanks expressed by the member for South Barwon. Many people were involved in this campaign but today I would like to particularly acknowledge Roger Hardley, Simon Birrell, Greg Hocking and Gerard Mullaly, and all of many thousands who have been referred to. This will be one of the most important legacies of this government and I am proud to be able to stand up and support the bill today. I commend it to the house.

Mr LONEY (Lara) -- I am very pleased and proud to participate in the debate on this piece of legislation. It is a very significant piece of legislation for the Otways, my region, for the state and indeed for Australia.

This bill will protect the Otway forests, as the minister said in the second-reading speech, in three major ways: by implementing a key government policy to create a greatly expanded national park in the Otway Ranges to be called the Great Otway National Park; by establishing the basis for creating the Otway Forest Park; and by ensuring the end of sawlog and pulpwood harvesting in the Otway forests. These are three things of great significance, and I certainly stand here today as a very proud member for the region in which the Great Otway National Park will be formed.

As I said, the primary purpose of this bill is to create the Great Otway National Park under the National Parks Act. This is a wonderful area. It is a great piece of Victoria and one that fortunately, like many people from my area and beyond, I spend a great deal of time in. The importance and attractions of this area cannot be overestimated.

This new park will incorporate the existing Otway National Park and the Angahook-Lorne, Carlisle and Melba Gully state parks, as well as other state forest and Crown land. The new national park will cover more than 100 000 hectares, an increase in park area of more than 60 000 hectares, and will implement the park recommended by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) in its final report on the Angahook-Otway investigation.

This new national park will be complemented by the Otway Forest Park, another significant park established by this government. This was recommended again by VEAC and will cover some 40 000 hectares. These things result directly from the decision of the Bracks government to phase out timber harvesting in the native forests of the Otway Ranges and instead to recognise that their sustainable future lies with their tourism value. That is a key principle to what is occurring here.

The bill deals with a number of things, but I wish to focus on the particular aspects of the bill relating to the new national park. As the minister said in the second-reading speech, there are a number of key features implemented in this bill. The first is protecting the water supply catchments. That is a very important feature of this and one that has been the subject of great debate over many years in our region, with views expressed that the water supply catchment areas of the Otways should be protected from logging, harvesting and other uses. This is vital to Geelong, the community I represent, and to the Otway communities themselves, many of which swell to many times their normal populations over the summer months. There is a requirement to access and harvest water of the highest standard for their communities.

Also, for the first time this bill defines the Great Ocean Road and the other arterial roads, as the minister said.

The importance of this is that it is for the first time properly designating what is and has become one of the world's great ocean drives. Up until this stage it has not been properly defined. I heard the member for South Barwon talking about other similar types of drives, but I might say the Great Ocean Road drive is certainly on a par with the Pacific coast drive in California and Ireland's Ring of Kerry. Both have spectacular scenery, and the Otways road loses nothing in comparison to them. I might say that I prefer it. But it is not just the ocean drive but the drives on the inland roads that are fantastic. I wonder if there is a more spectacular road in Australia than Turtons Track. That is a magnificent piece of road. You can also go up Wild Dog Road and through the surrounding area. These areas have spectacular scenery; they offer spectacular drives and sights of great foliage in temperate rainforest areas, which will now become protected for the future of this state and this country.

Another feature of this bill is that it protects the Cape Otway lighthouse. It is a great piece of Australia's heritage, built in 1848 to mark the narrow western entrance to Bass Strait. This is part of a stretch of water where, as many people understand, there have been many shipwrecks. In fact it has become known in recent years as the shipwreck coast. I might say that many of those wrecks were documented by the former Apollo Bay mayor, the late Jack Loney. I hasten to add that Jack was not related to me. But Jack documented at great length the shipwrecks of that area. That is another important piece of our heritage, and the Cape Otway lighthouse is part of that.

Establishing the Otway Forest Park is another important piece of this legislation. It creates a 40 000 hectare forest park for recreational use, allowing certain community recreation and resource uses not generally allowed in a national park.

Just to spell them out, these include walking dogs, horseriding, trail-bike riding, four-wheel-driving, camping, deer hunting -- which has been mentioned by those on the other side -- and low-intensity harvesting for community firewood needs and other purposes. Commercial use of the park will be given a lower priority than it has been given in the past, and timber harvesting for sawlogs and pulpwood will be permitted only until the current licences expire in 2008.

This is a piece of legislation that has immense significance to my region, to the state and to the country. It delivers on the promises made in the 2002 election campaign in the A New Future for the Otways policy, so many aspects of which have been delivered. Early reduction in logging has been delivered through a 25 per cent reduction, and all of it is to cease by 2008. I listened carefully to the member for Polwarth when he was speaking, and I am pretty sure he was indicating that if the opposition gets back into power there will be a return of logging in the Otways. What a policy to have!

It shows the attitude to national parks of members on the other side of this house.

I might say again that I think The Nationals simply do not understand the national parks concept. In some way or another they have opposed every single national park measure that we have brought into this place. Their approach to the environment reminds me of that old army adage: if it doesn't move, paint it; if it moves, shoot it. That seems to reflect their environment policy.

This is a great piece of legislation and it does many, many things. It will provide an investment in nature-based tourism to generate employment opportunities throughout this region. That is already starting to be delivered. If I had more time, I would go through that in great detail, and maybe other members will do so.

But I wish to say that many people and organisations have participated in making the Great Otway National Park concept a reality, from local councils, retail traders groups, tourism groups, walking groups, park users and many others who lobbied for this for a particular time.

Without wishing to single anyone out, the Otway Ranges Environment Network brought together many of those people and was, if you like, the spearhead of that campaign. Particularly because of the conversations that I had with OREN, I mention the lobbying of Simon Birrell and Roger Hartley, whose persistence in lobbying was absolutely unbounded; they had great enthusiasm and were great lobbyists. I also indicate that in the early days when this side of the house was in opposition, Chris Tippler did an enormous amount of work. Those people should be recognised for that. That leaves out a lot of people, but I thank them all. I am sure that as they see this legislation passing through the house they will feel a great sense of personal achievement.

It is indeed a great day for all of them.

Mr TREZISE (Geelong) -- I, like my colleagues from Geelong, also have great pride and pleasure in speaking in support of this legislation, the National Parks (Otways and Other Amendments) Bill.

Because this legislation will in effect create the Great Otway National Park, I say with great pride and pleasure that it is in my eyes the crowning glory of the Bracks government's long list of magnificent achievements in its creation and protection of Victorian national and state parks. No former Victorian state government could boast about such a list of achievements to protect national parks in Victoria. Like my colleagues from Geelong who have previously spoken, from the outset, and before I make any further comments on this legislation, I would like to also commend and congratulate a number of environmental organisations which have been at the forefront of the creation of the expanded national parks.

Firstly, the Otway Ranges Environment Network has been a driving force in both the protection of and the elimination of logging in the Otways. With the fear of missing out a few people, I would like to particularly commend Simon Birrell and Roger Hardley and their team on their work on behalf of OREN over many years.

I can assure this house that in people like Simon Birrell, OREN has very strong, persuasive and persistent lobbyists.

I remember at one stage -- it was probably early 2000 -- Simon was coming in to see me at least fortnightly. Thankfully it was not more often because he lived in Melbourne and had to come down to Geelong to meet with me. But I must admit that although I always liked talking to Simon, at that stage there was not much I could say to him, so I always felt under a bit of pressure when I met with him. One day he came into my office full of beans and said that he had some great news for me, that he had moved just around the corner from my office and so would be able to come to see me more often! I met that with great enthusiasm. But in all seriousness, I fully commend Simon Birrell, Roger Hardley and the team at OREN for all the work they have done over many years -- and I mean many years.

Another organisation I would like to mention -- and I may forget some organisations -- is the Geelong Environment Council led admirably by Joan Lindros. The GEC also played a pivotal role in the protection of the Otways over many years. There are numerous other individuals and organisations with whom I have worked over the last few years on this legislation and the cessation of logging.

I will never forget the day my youngest daughter and I met with a group of people, including OREN and local accommodation operators, who took us on a tour of logging coupes in the Otways. We visited one clear-felled area just off Mount Sabine Road, and it was literally like a moonscape. We were wandering through a cool rainforest one minute and then entered a moonscape, which was just hectares of dirt, stark sunlight and one or two tree stumps. That delivered

home to me a very powerful message. I also remember the blistering heat and dust in that bare area. On the way home my daughter absolutely -- --

Mr Maughan interjected.

Mr TREZISE -- I have been there a number of times since. On the way home my daughter questioned the fate of the koalas, the parrots, the wombats and the other wildlife, and asked me a very pertinent question: what was I going to do about it? She was then eight years old.

In turning to the legislation before us today, the primary purpose of this legislation is to create an expanded Otway National Park. The new park will incorporate the current Otway National Park, and the Angahook-Lorne, Carlisle and Melba Gully state parks. The Great Otway National Park will cover more than a massive 100 000 hectares -- more than doubling the current national park.

In addition the park will be complemented by the Otway Forest Park, covering another 40 000 hectares. As a result of the creation of the parks the Bracks government will be able to fulfil its other key objective for the protection of the Otways -- that is, of course, the phasing out of logging of native forests by 2008. By putting together the Great Otway National Park and the cessation of logging, we have as a result a new beginning and a very healthy future for the Otway Ranges.

In creating a massive national park like the Great Otway National Park, it is essential that funding is available for its upkeep. I note the opposition from The Nationals to this bill due to, in their eyes, an apparent lack of funding. It is therefore important to note that in the May 2005 budget more than $13 million was allocated for the employment of additional forestry staff for this work, and that there will be a further $3.4 million ongoing funding for land management in the park.

In addition, early this year -- I think it was in January -- $7 million was allocated to tourism in the Otway Ranges. This funding of course recognises the future of the Otway Ranges and will ensure that future opportunities and employment sit with ecotourism and not logging.

The funding will be used to fund proactive and practical tourism projects based in the Otways. These include upgrades and redevelopments to areas like Triplet Falls, walkways to various waterfalls including Erskine, Beauchamp, Hopetoun, Stevensons and Little Aire; the creation of a walking track from Forrest to Lake Elizabeth -- and I can say from first-hand experience that Lake Elizabeth is a great place to spend an Easter camping with your family; the further development of bike trails; and last but not least, the completion of the Great Ocean Walk, a project that will be most welcome to a lot of people.

Importantly for communities in Geelong, Colac, Lorne, Warrnambool the Surf Coast, the parks will include important parts of numerous water supply catchments. The protection of these catchments through their incorporation into the parks will ensure a quality water supply for those communities I have mentioned. The legislation also provides a great future for icons like the Cape Otway lighthouse and the Cape Otway cemetery. The Cape Otway lighthouse is a magnificent relic of our shipping history along the southern coast, and I welcome the new lease arrangements that have been put in place.

In conclusion, my family and I have spent many hours, days and weekends along the Great Ocean Road and in the Otways. I honestly cannot think of a better way to spend a weekend than going down along the Great Ocean Road and through the Otways. Their sheer magnificence, beauty and tranquillity could not be surpassed anywhere in the world.

It has taken the Bracks government's commitment to the Otways through the creation of the park and the cessation of logging to ensure its future.

I commend the Premier, Minister Thwaites and his predecessor, Minister Garbutt, for their commitment to and work in protecting the Otways. I also take the opportunity to commend my fellow Geelong member of Parliament, Ms Elaine Carbines in the other place, for her work as a parliamentary secretary over a number of years. This is great legislation. It will ensure the future of the Otway Ranges for generations to come, and I commend the bill to the house.

Mr WYNNE (Richmond) -- I rise to support the National Parks (Otways and Other Amendments) Bill. The issue of national parks is important not only to electorates like mine but also to the wider Victorian community.

The bill will give legislative effect to our historic 2002 election commitment to create the Great Otway National Park. As members are aware, it was guided by the recommendations of the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council.

This magnificent new national park stretches from Anglesea to Cape Otway and will cover more than 100 000 hectares, more than doubling the size of the current national park area. The park represents a significantly diverse range of terrain and vegetation, from the rugged coastlines and towering ancient

rainforest to the drier inland slopes and heathlands. This is a very diverse area and one that has now been secured not only for ourselves, but for future generations. It will be unquestionably one of Australia's great national parks. However, creating this world-class sanctuary was not easy. This has been the result of an extraordinary struggle over many years and in that respect, in following my colleagues from the Geelong region who so proudly stood here today, it is no surprise to either side of the house that in part the overwhelming victory that the Labor Party had at the last election was in no small way due to the commitment that this government made to the Otway national park. It was a pleasure for me to hear the contributions from all of my colleagues from the Geelong region and they rightly stand here proudly in support of this historic piece of legislation.

The only thing you can say is that it is always clear where The Nationals stand. You have to give them credit.

The member for Rodney has made it very clear where members of The Nationals stand -- they oppose it. They oppose the national park and they oppose this legislation. At least they come here with a clear, unambiguous position -- that they oppose it. That is fine. They have that position and we respect that fact. At least they have a position. As for the Liberal Party, it is absolutely all over the shop. Since we announced our policy in 2002 the Liberal Party has traversed the full spectrum of opinions. Firstly, it opposed our policy direction with a disastrous idea of woodchipping the native forests of the Otways. I know that the member for Doncaster -- a decent sort of a fellow and a person with whom I have jousted over the years -- could not have possibly supported in all conscience that proposition. Then, the Liberals, after losing all of their Geelong members, endorsed the national park.

The Deputy Leader of the Liberals in the Legislative Council, the Honourable Andrea Coote, is a very good person with whom I have had cause to deal on other matters. We did some excellent work on street prostitution, as the honourable member for Mornington would know. Sadly, another opportunity was lost by the Liberal Party to enact some decent reform for the most vulnerable of women in the area that Mrs Coote represents. In 2003 she welcomed the new park and said it would be of great benefit to Victoria. A week after Mrs Coote endorsed the government's position, she was slapped down by the Leader of the Opposition in this house, who told the Geelong Advertiser that there was no change to the position and that the Liberal Party wanted to continue logging the Otways for as long as possible. We had one position in the upper house from the deputy leader and another position in the lower house from the Leader of the Opposition. It is all right to have it both ways, but at the end of the day people make a judgment about parties that stand for nothing.

Just last year -- and I had the opportunity to listen to his contribution on the bill -- the member for Polwarth told the people of Colac that the national park decision was an absolute disgrace. In the house today the member for Bellarine in his contribution indicated, as I understand it, that the member for Polwarth was intimating that there would be some suggestion of a recision by the Liberal Party of that decision. The member for Doncaster looks at me quizzically, but if he looks at Daily Hansard he will find that the member for Polwarth has yet again reflected the vacillating position of the Liberal Party on this quite critical decision of the government to enshrine in legislation the Great Otway National Park. The Liberal Party is all over the shop on this issue. At least we understand the stance taken by members of The Nationals. They oppose it outright. That is fine. We understand that and the position of The Nationals will be on the public record in relation to that.

It is important that we recognise in this debate that this historic decision of the government has come as a result of an extraordinary effort by the community. This effort has been made over many years by committed environmentalists -- people who deeply care about the environment and national parks. They are people who have fought for many years to see this decision being enshrined in legislation. I had the opportunity to meet with some of those environmental groups, and the Otway Ranges Environmental Network was certainly one of those groups which played a key coordinating role -- a key campaigning role -- over a number of years to bring to the public's attention the critical need for intervention in the Otways, and I want to pay due respect to the network. As the member for South Barwon indicated in his contribution, the OREN group had always operated in a bipartisan way and sought the support of all sides of the political spectrum to achieve its basic goal in the Otways.

Sadly, as the member for South Barwon indicated, the Liberal Party essentially rebuffed this proposition, to its great detriment. We saw the electoral outcome of that. In my dealings with representatives of the Otway Ranges Environment Network I particularly acknowledge Roger Hardley, who is a person of great integrity and who provided freely of his time to educate me about the importance of the Great Otway National Park not only to the region or the state of Victoria but as a national icon. I acknowledge Roger and OREN's work for bringing to the attention of Parliament and the public the critical need to protect this area.

So much of what happens in this Parliament is generated by that sort of community action and community commitment. Today is a cause for celebration not just for groups such as OREN but for the broader community of Victoria, who have an interest in these national parks and in ensuring that we have areas that will regrow over time so we will be able to look at this extraordinary sweep of land into the future. The land will be held in public ownership and will not be viciously logged. That was the proposition of the flim-flam Liberal Party, which is not sure where it is on this issue. Whether it is the member for Polwarth, the Leader of the Opposition or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place, they are all over the shop on this issue. This is a great piece of legislation, and I commend it to the house.

Activity Second Reading

Date 8 September 2005

Mr JENKINS (Morwell) -- This is a good bill, a wonderful bill and one that should have the support of all members here. Sadly, we have wishy-washy support from the Liberal Party and we do not have the support of The Nationals.

An honourable member -- What is the bill called?

Mr JENKINS -- It is the National Parks (Otways and Other Amendments) Bill. This represents a missed opportunity for The Nationals to get their heads out of the sand and start to represent country Victoria.

Members of The Nationals claim to be the party of country Victoria, but they do not represent the overwhelming majority of people in country Victoria who care about our environment, about national parks and about the future. The people I represent in country Victoria and the people who, for some reason, are still represented by the last vestiges of The Nationals are people who care about the environment. They care about the sort of environment we pass on to the next generation.

The Nationals have missed another opportunity to demonstrate that they have finally come of age, that they have finally decided they are going to work with their community. They are troglodytes. They just cannot seem to catch up to the rest of the people in country Victoria. This is a missed opportunity for The Nationals to stop selling country Victoria and country Victorians short, a missed opportunity for The Nationals to get up and apologise to the people of country Victoria for their sell-out and their irresponsibility while in government. We hear some of The Nationals talk about timber communities, but they closed their schools, they closed their hospitals and they closed their rail lines. They closed five rail lines. They had an opportunity in this bill to get up and apologise to the people of country Victoria. They refused to do so. They should start to get their heads out of the sand -- --

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Seitz) -- Order! The member should come back to the bill.

Mr JENKINS -- They need to apologise to the people of country Victoria.

As explained by other speakers, this bill has impacts on the timber industry, which was brought to the brink of extinction by The Nationals in government and by the irresponsible way its members allowed the timber industry to continue on without any safeguards, without any regard for the future or for making the timber industry sustainable, which is what it now is under the Bracks government. Under this government timber communities across Victoria will remain great places to live and work in and raise a family. It is about time Nationals members realised the track they were headed down was one of extinction for timber communities. Fortunately the extinction of The Nationals is only a matter of time.

Timber communities and the timber industry will remain in Victoria, as highlighted last week with the $600 million development for Australian Paper in my electorate. This shows that you can have national parks, a responsible timber industry and at the same time deliver for the environment in Victoria.

That is what the Bracks government does. It makes sure that not only timber communities but places like the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland will remain great places to live and work and raise a family. In areas such as Cape Liptrap some modifications will ensure that there is accessibility and improvement to the great national park in that area through consultation, discussion and agreement with the South Gippsland Shire Council. The council can represent people in country Victoria. Why can The Nationals not move on? Local government in country Victoria has moved on, but not The Nationals! It gives me a great deal of pleasure to commend this bill to the house and wish it a speedy passage.

Mr THWAITES (Minister for Environment) -- I would like to thank all those members who contributed to the debate. I particularly thank members on the government side for their passionate support for the new Great Otway National Park. This will be one of the great parks in Australia, if not the world. It is a park that has been sought by many people for such a long time, and it is a park that we should all be proud of.

I also welcome the backflip by the Liberal Party, which for so long opposed all the steps we were taking to end logging and to set up this great new park.

I well recall the comments of the Leader of the Opposition, who said that logging was sustainable and should continue. The member for Polwarth told his constituents that the Liberal Party would support logging. But now our government, the Bracks government, has had the foresight and the courage of its convictions to bring this bill into the house. I am very pleased that it will now be passed through the Legislative Assembly, and I look forward to its successful passage in another place.

I know many members of the community have passionately supported this project. I will not be able to name all of them, but I would like to mention the members of the Otway Ranges Environment Network. This is a group of people who have campaigned for this for many years. They have not always agreed with what this government has done, but they put forward an outstanding case for this national park and for the end of logging in the Otways. That case was successfully put, and now we have this result.

I think it is a good demonstration of a community that has been able to articulate its position very clearly and advocate for it very strongly, and as a result we have a great outcome and a great achievement.

I would particularly like to pay tribute to the Premier, whose vision and commitment to this project have been unwavering. This is a project that the Premier has personally been not only interested in but passionate about, and the former environment minister, who I know loves the region -- --

Dr Napthine -- She got lost in the Otways!

Mr THWAITES -- So much so that she spent an additional night camping in the region! It showed her commitment, as the then environment minister, in the lead-up to the election, which we are now seeing being fulfilled.

A lot of work has also been done by the Department of Sustainability and Environment and by Parks Victoria in establishing the park. I am also very pleased that local government in the region is now working closely with the government on taking the next step for the future of the Otways, which is around tourism and visitation. Some magnificent tourism opportunities already exist there. These will expand even further with this park. There are some new initiatives, like the Old Beechy rail trail, which I understand will be officially opened in just a few weeks.

Dr Napthine -- I travelled on the last Beechy train.

Mr THWAITES -- The member for South-West Coast travelled on the last train. Now he will be able to cycle or walk through that region, and it will be a magnificent experience for him. Of course we have the Otway Fly, which is outside the park area but which is a very positive private sector development. Next to or very close to that the Triplet Falls area is being restored and upgraded after the terrible vandalism there. There will also be a new walking path through that area.

The geological history of the Otways is also fascinating. I hope that in future years more public attention will be paid to that and that people will take up the great opportunities that exist to learn about our geological past.

A number of issues were raised in the context of the debate, and I will briefly refer to some of them. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition claimed that clauses 17B and 17C of the national parties act -- sorry, the National Parks Act -- --

Mr Walsh -- We are synonymous!

Mr THWAITES -- There is a fair gap between the National Parks Act and The Nationals, although interestingly once national parks are established The Nationals come on board too. If you look at a place like the Grampians National Park, which was opposed by a number of people, you can see that since its establishment it has been generating millions of dollars -- I think it is now more than $200 million -- of economic development every year. That is just another example of how national parks have huge economic benefits for the state. I am glad the local member has now come on board too, and I hope The Nationals -- --

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr THWAITES -- Maybe they will rename themselves again.

They have gone from being the National Party to the VicNats and to the Nats, and now maybe to the National Park Party!

Mr Walsh -- It's a long bow, mate.

Mr THWAITES -- It is a long bow -- but I can only hope. Before I was diverted I was referring to the claim by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that this bill amends clauses 17B and 17C of the National Parks Act to the effect that the authority involved in protecting and managing these water catchment areas will be Melbourne Water. He tried to score some political points on that basis, but as, I am afraid, we have become somewhat accustomed to in this house, the deputy leader got it wrong again. The legislation does not amend clauses 17B and 17C of the National Parks Act; but more importantly the legislation does not make Melbourne Water responsible for protecting and managing the water catchment areas in the Otways.

What the legislation does is confirm that Melbourne Water is the responsible authority in the Kinglake and Yarra Ranges national parks, but it specifically states that the water authorities responsible for the management of the Otways park are Barwon Water and the successor of South-West Water, Wannon Water. The deputy leader had asked me to respond on that issue. All I can urge him to do is to read legislation a little more carefully before he makes allegations like that.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also claimed to have been told that there would be a 100-metre buffer zone on freehold land between the creek area and the area of private land that people are allowed to use. There is no buffer zone on freehold land. He might have been told that, but if he had checked the legislation he would have found that that is incorrect.

A number of members on our side of the house emphasised the huge importance of this new national park. They pointed out very eloquently that this park is very much part of the future of the whole region and that there will be great economic spin-offs as a result. I should also indicate that the government is making a financial commitment in the establishment of the park, which will see extra park rangers, extra funds for weed control and for managing the natural values. I am pleased to say that the extra funding was part of a major boost to parks funding in the 2005-06 budget. The government was able to invest more than $100 million in extra funding for parks, state forests and Crown land to better manage those natural assets and to ensure that we can replace assets as well.

I would like to heartily thank all those members who spoke during the debate. I thank particularly the Geelong members of the government and the Parliamentary Secretary for Environment in the other place, who has, over a long period of time, been a passionate supporter of the park and who has personally been involved in all the discussions and deliberations about the park. Other members of this house have also been very strong advocates and worked with me and the previous minister and the Premier in the establishment of the park. I am very pleased to be able to sum up this debate and look forward to the official opening of the new park very shortly.

House divided on motion:

Ayes, 75
Andrews, Mr Languiller, Mr
Asher, Ms Leighton, Mr
Baillieu, Mr Lim, Mr
Barker, Ms Lindell, Ms
Batchelor, Mr Lobato, Ms
Beard, Ms Lockwood, Mr
Beattie, Ms Loney, Mr
Bracks, Mr Lupton, Mr
Brumby, Mr McIntosh, Mr
Cameron, Mr McTaggart, Ms
Carli, Mr Marshall, Ms
Clark, Mr Maxfield, Mr
Cooper, Mr Merlino, Mr
Crutchfield, Mr Mildenhall, Mr
D'Ambrosio, Ms Morand, Ms
Delahunty, Ms Mulder, Mr
Dixon, Mr Munt, Ms
Donnellan, Mr Napthine, Dr
Doyle, Mr Nardella, Mr
Duncan, Ms Neville, Ms
Eckstein, Ms Overington, Ms
Garbutt, Ms Pandazopoulos, Mr
Gillett, Ms Perera, Mr
Green, Ms Perton, Mr
Haermeyer, Mr Pike, Ms
Hardman, Mr Plowman, Mr
Harkness, Mr Robinson, Mr
Helper, Mr Seitz, Mr
Herbert, Mr Shardey, Mrs
Holding, Mr Smith, Mr
Honeywood, Mr Stensholt, Mr
Howard, Mr Thompson, Mr
Hudson, Mr Thwaites, Mr
Hulls, Mr Trezise, Mr
Jenkins, Mr Wells, Mr
Kosky, Ms Wilson, Mr
Kotsiras, Mr Wynne, Mr
Langdon, Mr

Noes, 9
Delahunty, Mr Ryan, Mr
Ingram, Mr Savage, Mr
Jasper, Mr Sykes, Dr
Maughan, Mr Walsh, Mr
Powell, Mrs

Activity Second Reading
Date 14 September 2005

Ms CARBINES (Geelong) -- I am proud to speak in support of the National Parks (Otways and Other Amendments) Bill. I say 'proud' because this work has been the culmination of enormous efforts by many people across the state to see a new era of protection come into being to look after the old-growth forests in the Otways and to protect the flora and fauna of the Otways. I am proud also as a member of the government to be speaking yet again on another environmental bill, which proves again the environmental credentials of the Bracks government as a leader in environmental conservation across the state.

The bill to create the Great Otway National Park builds on our proud record of creating marine national parks and sanctuaries in our first term, which placed our state at the forefront of marine conservation around the world.

We have protected our fragile box-ironbark forests, created the Point Nepean National Park, we have across the state instituted radical forestry reform which has placed the forestry industry in this state on a sustainable footing and ensured a future for the timber industry in this state, which it surely did not have without the reform that took place. We have drastically reformed and are undertaking the reform of our water resources to make sure our water is managed sustainably, not just for our use but for generations to come. I am also very proud of our work to end cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park. We have a suite of environmental reforms that we will leave as the legacy of our government. I am very proud of that record.

I was extremely disappointed by Mrs Coote's contribution which was shambolic and vitriolic. It did not do her or the Liberal Party any credit. She will have cause to reflect on her contribution tonight. Mr Hall's contribution signifies The Nationals have returned to type.

There was a fleeting opportunity some weeks ago when The Nationals supported the creation of the Point Nepean National Park. I thought the tide had turned, but no, The Nationals signalled tonight they are returning to type and still do not understand the great importance that the Victorian community places on environmental protection.

This bill will create the Great Otway National Park. It will deliver on an election commitment made to the Victorian people at the 2002 election. The Great Otway National Park will extend from Anglesea to Cape Otway. The other part of the election commitment was to end logging in the Otways by 2008. The passage of this bill will herald a new era of protection for the Otways and I am delighted to be speaking tonight in support of the bill and delivering on the promise that the Premier made at Triplet Falls in 2002. The Great Otway National Park will be the largest coastal park in our state. I know it will become a huge attraction to not only Victorians but interstate and international visitors.

We have come to this point tonight, which is the culmination of many years of work by many people. I want to knowledge the work of the environmental groups in Geelong and surrounding regions. I refer to the Otway Ranges Environment Network. I particularly acknowledge Simon Birrell, Greg Hocking and Roger Hardley who have worked tirelessly to see the Otways protected, as have other OREN members. The Geelong Environment Council, Joan Lindros,. Victorian National Parks Association and Lindsay Heskett of the Australian Conservation Foundation deserve acknowledgment. Our local councils, Surf Coast Shire Council and the City of Greater Geelong, have fully supported the creation of this park. Our tourism body, Geelong Otway Tourism, has spoken in support of the bill as have traders around the Great Ocean Road region.

In the middle of the extensive drought that has gripped the south-west region ordinary people in Geelong started talking about the fact they were worried logging was taking place in Geelong's water catchment.

Our government has listened carefully to all of this advocacy in relation to the Otways and has been pleased to act on behalf of those people -- on behalf of the traders, on behalf of tourism, on behalf of councils, the environment and conservation groups, and indeed on behalf of all Victorians -- to protect the Otways.

I was very pleased to stand with the Premier when he made the election commitment in 2002 at Triplet Falls. Tonight we have heard some members opposite talking about it being a political process and questioning the politics around it. History shows that the 2002 election was a resounding endorsement of the Bracks government policy for the Otways. We have never had so many Labor members of Parliament elected as we did in 2002. The Victorian people critically examined our policy and said, 'Yes, we want to vote for a party that supports the protection of the Otways'. I am very proud of that.

We are well on track to end logging in the Otways by 2008. We have bought out the Calco licence. In our first year we have reduced logging for woodchips by 25 per cent in the Otways and set up the Victorian Environment Assessment Council's inquiry into the extent of the national park. It was not a charade, as Mr Hall tried to say. The inquiry is examining where the boundaries of the national park should be. I know that VEAC received over 1800 submissions. The public consultation process was extensive and I know from what happened in my own electorate how many times they came to talk to people across our region to look at the issue of where the boundaries should be. The public consultation process was enormous. They recommended the creation of the new Great Otway National Park, which has been overwhelmingly accepted by the government.

In June I was very pleased to stand yet again with the Premier and Minister for Environment in the other place, the Honourable John Thwaites, my colleagues from the lower house and the other member for Geelong Province, John Eren, at Mogg's Creek at the start of the Great Otway National Park where it was announced that the government was accepting VEAC's recommendations to create a national park of some 103 000 hectares, accompanied by a forest park of 39 000 hectares.

We have heard questioning tonight of the status of the forest park. The forest park is a new concept, and I understand that the Liberal Party is struggling to come to terms with this new concept. Mrs Coote was rather disparaging in her comments about it.

The concept of a forest park is aimed at addressing the very issues that Mrs Coote was enunciating -- that is, access to the park for people who want to use it for recreation, for conservation purposes and for minor resource use. It is a very good concept that the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council has devised. I look forward to its implementation because it strikes the right balance between the conservation of the fragile environment that is needed for the national park and the forest park, which will see multiple uses.

I have been very pleased at different times to accompany my colleagues to the Otways. In fact, last year I took a group of government MPs to the Otways to show them around. We had a really good time tourism potential of and the protection that can be afforded to the Otways.

We visited not only Triplet Falls, which was the scene of not only our election announcement but also of much environmental vandalism in the first year of our second term when some people who obviously were opposed to the creation of a national park went to there and managed to cut into about 80 very old trees, which then had to be felled completely, devastating of the environment around the falls. That showed me the extent to which some people who were opposed to the park were prepared to go. It was a disgraceful and despicable display, and rightly deserved our condemnation.

The government is pleased to support the establishment of the Great Otway National Park with significant funding. We have announced this year $13 million in funding over four years and the employment of 17 additional officers to help with the management of the park. In this year's budget $45 million was allocated for the control of the weeds and pest animals across the state.

We are working very hard with the department and Parks Victoria to manage key issues surrounding public land management. The Otways now have a great future to look forward to in relation to tourism. We know that over $1 billion is spent by tourists every year in the Otway region. The potential is enormous. Over the last year the number of jobs associated with tourism in our Otway region has increased by 21.5 per cent.

Recently I was pleased to the accompany the cabinet to the Colac-Otway Shire Council. We met with the shire, which expressed its support for the creation of the national park and the new future for the Otways. Last week I was at a tourism breakfast and Tourism Alliance Victoria congratulated the government publicly on the creation of the national park. We have announced already $14 million for the national park and $7 million in funding for 19 tourism projects across the national park.

I am looking forward in a few weeks time to officially opening the Old Beechy rail trail, a $1 million project which will see a rail trail moving out of Colac and through the Otways. There are many other projects associated with short walks and infrastructure around the magnificent waterfalls in the Otways, and we are also of course looking at the preparation for and analysis of work that may need to be done to upgrade Turtons Track.

We have seen magnificent private investment as a result of government policy. The Otway Fly has been established in the Otways. It is Australia's largest treetop walk, and I congratulate the developers, Shane Abel and Neil Wade, for their vision and the investment they have made. The government shares their vision about the future of the Otways.

I was concerned to hear the Liberal Party's comments tonight.

I was also concerned to read the comments made in the Legislative Assembly debate, particularly the comments of the member for Polwarth, Mr Mulder. He made it quite clear that he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to support this bill and that if, in the unlikely scenario that the Liberal Party were elected at the next election, he would be doing everything he could to amend the legislation. I put Mr Mulder on notice that we will be watching very carefully and listening to what he says in his statements. He should get behind the national park, because that is what people across our region want.

I acknowledge all of the people such as the environment groups, local councils, tourism groups and traders who have worked over many years -- more than a decade of work -- to see the establishment of the Great Otway National Park. Of course we must acknowledge the leadership of two ministers in the Bracks government, Minister Garbutt, the environment minister during our the first term, and Minister Thwaites, the current Minister for Environment in the other place, who has shown magnificent leadership on this issue. I would also like to acknowledge the Premier, who has taken a personal interest in the Otways. I know he is extremely proud of the creation of the national park. I acknowledge the Department of Sustainability and Environment officers and Parks Victoria staff who have worked so hard to support the government and provided it with advice on the creation of the Great Otway National Park. The government has listened carefully to what the community has had to say in the south-western region. We have listened to what Victorians have had to say about conservation and preserving the Otways to bring to reality the vision these people have shared. I am pleased tonight to speak in support of this bill, which delivers a key election commitment made by the Premier at Triplet Falls in 2002. All members of this place should be getting behind the establishment of the Great Otway National Park.

I look forward to meeting everyone down there to join us in a celebration in the weeks to come. We are ensuring that the vision of protection of the Otways will be a legacy of this government for which we will be -- --

The PRESIDENT -- Order! The member's time has expired.

Hon. J. G. HILTON (Western Port) -- It gives me pleasure this evening to speak on the National Parks (Otways and Other Amendments) Bill. As has been pointed out, the main purpose of this bill is to create the Great Otway National Park and also to create the Otway Forest Park.

As Ms Carbines said, the creation of this park was an election promise of the Bracks government at the 2002 election. We all have our different views as to why the Bracks government was so resoundingly re-elected with a record majority of seats in the lower house and indeed for the first time in 150 years a majority in this house. I believe that one of the reasons was the government's environmental policy.

In the televised debate a question was asked of both leaders: would you end logging in the Otways? The Premier said, 'Yes'; Mr Doyle said, 'No'. I believe that was a key moment in the campaign which proved that the government had environmental credentials that were recognised and acknowledged by the Victorian community.

I am very pleased that the Liberal Party is not opposing this bill, but from what I have heard this evening its members are not really supporting it. I am not sure that their hearts are really in this bill. Mrs Coote had to go back to the Hamer government to talk about the Liberals' environmental credentials. She did not mention the Kennett government, but I am not surprised because the Kennett government had no environmental credentials. I very much doubt whether, in the unlikely event of a Doyle Liberal government, that would have any environmental credentials either.

I also take up Mrs Coote's point about the amount of money which has been spent on national parks.

She referred to a comparison of spending per head of population on national parks. I would have thought anybody who had any sense would know that is a totally fallacious argument. Victoria is the smallest state in terms of area and yet has one of the highest populations, so on a per capita basis we are bound to spend less. But on a per hectare basis we spend the second highest amount in Australia, and surely that is the statistic we should be quoting if we are comparing state with state.

At least members of The Nationals deserve some credit for being consistent in what they are saying about this bill. They are opposing it. In my experience in this house they have opposed the vast majority of what I call environmental bills.

They did in fact support the Point Nepean bill, but generally speaking The Nationals are quite consistent in their opposition on environmental issues. That is a pity because they will find themselves very much isolated when we divide on this bill. In the lower house the division result was 75 to 9. When we divide this evening, tomorrow or whenever it is, the result will be 37 or 38 to 4. Surely that should be sending a message to The Nationals that on this sort of issue they are out of touch. They are out of touch with the feeling of the great majority of Victorians. The great majority of Victorians believe natural resources are to be conserved and not exploited.

If I could summarise in just 10 words the position of The Nationals in relation to environmental resources those 10 words would be: dig it up, chop it down and ship it out. This may have been a common view 50 years ago. It is not a common view now. Times have changed and people's attitudes have changed, but what has not changed are the views of The Nationals. Is it any wonder that the most likely scenario in this chamber after the 2006 election is that The Nationals will just have one member.

Mr Damian Drum will be his leader, his deputy leader and his chief whip. Unless The Nationals are prepared to change their views on issues like the environment they will be condemned to increasing irrelevance. But I do not think it is possible for The Nationals to change their views. The Nationals are mired in the morass of their own making, which I believe is a great shame, because on an individual basis all the members of The Nationals make significant contributions to this house and are very effective advocates on behalf of their constituents.

As usual the details of this bill have been very well covered by my friend the parliamentary secretary, Ms Carbines. I would like to compliment and congratulate her on her commitment, her passion and the energy that she has brought to the creation of the Great Otway National Park. I know the creation of this national park is something of which Ms Carbines feels justifiably proud. In fact I suggest her passion for the Great Otway National Park is second only to my passion for the Melbourne Storm.

I shall address just one point which was made by the opposition -- that is, the question of economic activity. Our economy is changing. Our economy is in a permanent state of change. Economies which do not change go backwards. Services are increasingly important in our economy, and one of the fastest-growing industries in Victoria is tourism. Some figures which I have seen indicate that tourism has increased by 50 per cent since the Bracks government was elected in 1999. At a business conference I attended last week it was said that the turnover in tourism is now $11 billion, and that is projected to increase to $18 billion within the next few years. Currently the tourism industry employs 160 000 Victorians. In my region of the Mornington Peninsula over 20 per cent of employment opportunities are in tourism and hospitality and that is expected to increase.

In relation to the Otways, the figures show that international visitors to the region are up by 14 per cent; the length of stay of international visitors has increased to 5.2 nights; and international visitor numbers to the region are forecast to be over 320 000 by 2012. The reason I make that point is that national parks are not bad for employment. They are actually good for employment, but they are good for different sorts of employment. Again, I acknowledge Mr Stoney's passion for supporting the timber industry in Victoria. He has been consistent about that and I know he feels strongly about it. But I suggest the Bracks government has been generous in the transitional arrangements and compensation effected by change, and this was clearly illustrated when we debated the Alpine National Park grazing bill.

As I said previously, I do not wish to go into the details of the bill because that has been very well covered, but I do say this bill demonstrates once again the Bracks government's commitment to creating a sustainable environment for this and future generations. The bill recognises that we are custodians, not exploiters, of the environment and that contrary to the common view that there will be a long-term adverse effect on employment, indeed the employment opportunities will be increased, which is surely to the benefit of all Victorians.

In conclusion, occasionally bills come before this house which show very clearly why the government is in government, why the opposition is in opposition, and why, unfortunately, The Nationals are declining into irrelevance. This is one of those bills, and I am delighted to commend it to the house.

House divided on motion:

Ayes, 36
Argondizzo, Ms Lenders, Mr
Atkinson, Mr Lovell, Ms
Bowden, Mr McQuilten, Mr
Brideson, Mr Mikakos, Ms
Broad, Ms Mitchell, Mr
Buckingham, Mrs Nguyen, Mr
Carbines, Ms (Teller) Olexander, Mr
Coote, Mrs Pullen, Mr
Dalla-Riva, Mr Rich-Phillips, Mr
Darveniza, Ms Romanes, Ms
Davis, Mr D. McL. Scheffer, Mr
Davis, Mr P. R. Smith, Mr
Eren, Mr Somyurek, Mr
Forwood, Mr Stoney, Mr
Hilton, Mr (Teller) Strong, Mr
Hirsh, Ms Thomson, Ms
Jennings, Mr Viney, Mr
Koch, Mr Vogels, Mr

Noes, 4
Baxter, Mr (Teller) Drum, Mr
Bishop, Mr Hall, Mr (Teller)




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