Proposed amendments to the Nature Conservation Act 1992
The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (the Bill) was introduced into Queensland Parliament on 27 October 2015.
The Bill includes a range of amendments to the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) and related legislation to align the legislative framework with the government’s commitments and priorities for the protected area estate. Amendments contained in the Bill will:
- reinstate ‘the conservation of nature’ as the sole object of the NCA
- reinstate the former national park (scientific), conservation park and resources reserve classes of protected area, and their associated management principles
- remove provisions that allow management plans under the NCA, Marine Parks Act 2004 and Recreation Areas Management Act 2006 to be amended without public consultation if the amendments relate to a change in State Government policy
- remove provisions that allowed the chief executive to grant stock grazing permits for emergency drought relief on six prescribed national parks until 31 December 2013 because they have become redundant
- revert rolling term leases (under the Land Act 1994) for agriculture, grazing or pastoral purposes back to term leases if they are within national parks (all classes), regional parks and forest reserves (noting that this will not affect rolling term leases for grazing on State Forests).
Transitional provisions have been included in the Bill to support the changes to the classes of protected areas. For example, to ensure that existing legal agreements, contracts and documents that refer to regional parks are not invalidated when these revert back to conservation parks and resources reserves.
The Bill has been referred to the Agriculture and Environment Committee of Parliament for examination. If the Committee recommends that the Bill be passed, it is anticipated that it will be scheduled for debate in the first quarter of 2016. If passed, most of the changes will commence at that time, with only the changes to the classes of protected area taking place later on 1 July 2016.
The Bill also contains other unrelated amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) and the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (ALA).
- The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is proposing an amendment to the EP Act to defer the expiration of current eligibility criteria and standard conditions for mining activities by one year from 31 March 2016 to 31 March 2017.
- The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships is proposing an amendment to the ALA to make regional parks in the Cape York Peninsula region transferrable in order to streamline the process of converting regional parks to jointly managed national park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land (CYPAL).
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