This year I have a particular reason to reflect on the past. It is 25 years since the legislation creating the Commissioner’s role was debated in Parliament. Established as part of the Environment Act, there was support for the creation of the role from across the political spectrum. Phrases used in debate as it progressed included “watchdog”, “environmental auditor”, “independence”, “Parliament’s person”, and “without fear or favour”.
And as I reflect on the year’s work I see reports and advice that are consistent with the intent of those Parliamentarians a quarter of a century ago; mining on conservation land, a strategic approach to biofuels, advice on the new Environmental Protection Authority, the consequences of large scale mining of lignite, and the use of the controversial pesticide 1080. These last two are especially significant.