Wild Rivers Inquiry

One of the House of Representatives Committees I am on is the Economics Committee.  The Economics Committee will be examining Indigenous economic development in Queensland including issues surrounding Queensland’s Wild Rivers Act 2005.

“In addition to examining the broader question of Indigenous economic development, this inquiry will examine the impact that the proposed Wild Rivers (Environmental Management) Bill 2010 would have, if passed,” said the Chair of the Committee, Craig Thomson (Member for Dobell, NSW). 

The Queensland Wild Rivers Act 2005 aims to ‘preserve the natural values of rivers that have all, or almost all, of their natural values intact’, but not undermine sustainable Indigenous economic development in the Cape York region or other parts of Queensland.

So far, 10 areas have been declared Wild Rivers.  They are:

Wenlock Basin (2010) Archer River (2009)
Stewart River (2009) Lockhart River (2009)
Fraser River (2007) Gregory River (2007)
Hinchinbrook River (2007) Morning Inlet (2007)
Settlement River (2007) Staaten River (2007)

The Terms of Reference for the inquiry, referred by the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Ms Jenny Macklin, are:

The Committee should examine the scope for increasing sustainable Indigenous economic development in Queensland and including in the Cape York region having regard to the aspirations of Indigenous people and the social and cultural context surrounding their participation in the economy. 

The Committee will consider:

1)     existing environmental regulation, legislation in relation to mining and other relevant legislation including the Wild Rivers Act (Qld) 2005 and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;

2)     the impact which legislation in the form of the Wild Rivers (Environmental Management) Bill 2010 would have, if passed; and

3)     options for facilitating economic development for the benefit of Indigenous people and the protection of the environmental values of undisturbed river systems.

The full Terms of Reference can be found on the Committee’s webpage at: http://www.aph.gov.au/economics

The federal parliamentary committee is keen to hear from Indigenous communities, industry, mining, peak associations, academia, government departments and individuals.  The committee will accept submissions, preferably by email, until Friday, 26 November 2010.  The Committee has been asked to report by March 2011.

Further details about the inquiry, including how to make a submission, can be obtained from the committee’s website at www.aph.gov.au/economics or by contacting the committee secretariat on (02) 6277 4209 or emailing economics.reps@aph.gov.au

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