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Tom Nightingale reported this story on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 08:06:00

TONY EASTLEY: The Coalition’s environment spokesman, Greg Hunt was explaining his party’s climate change policy in Adelaide last night.

While he was there, he also told AM the Coalition plans to create a position of Threatened Species Commissioner.

Tom Nightingale reports.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: Many of Australia’s animals, plants and birds aren’t found anywhere else in the world.

But Greg Hunt says there’s too many species at serious risk of extinction, and a change to the bureaucracy is needed.

GREG HUNT: Well we will actually have a Threatened Species Commissioner.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: At the moment, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee advises the Environment Minister.

And right now, for example, it’s seeking public comments on proposals to protect what it terms “ecological communities” in the Sydney Basin and the Esperance Plains. Both sites were nominated to the committee three years ago.

If protected, the committee’s website says any new projects likely to impact on biodiversity will need approval – but it says an exemption will apply to existing land uses, like farming.

When Greg Hunt was pushed on whether the Coalition supports logging in native forests, he says the status quo is worth persisting with.

GREG HUNT: We will allow the current process between the states to be determined by the states.

My hope is that they will have some form of agreement and accommodation that will help the possum. It’s a magnificent animal, it’s one of our iconic national species.

TONY EASTLEY: The Coalition’s environment spokesman Greg Hunt, ending Tom Nightingale’s report.

Labor says it will expand the use of strategic assessment powers if re-elected, and it says the Coalition’s idea for a Threatened Species Commissioner is unnecessary bureaucracy.