Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 134..
The only interest groups I have not received any useful feedback from, unfortunately, are the Liberal and Labor parties and I would very much welcome feedback from these groups.
I was disappointed that my bill was not supported last year. In reintroducing it this year I am aware that the composition of the Assembly has changed, and hopefully the government's process is nearing an end. I am hopeful that the government is now, or soon will be, in a position to support real change in companion animal welfare. Of course I am aware that there is still considerable public interest in animal welfare.
The main reason I am presenting this bill again is that the problem of unwanted dogs and cats, unwanted animals, is still here in Canberra. We are, sadly, euthanasing over a thousand animals each year. This should stop, and if this bill is passed it would certainly reduce that number. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell) adjourned to the next sitting.
Commissioner for the Environment Amendment Bill 2012
Mr Rattenbury, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.
Title read by Clerk.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.20): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
Today I am pleased to be tabling the Commissioner for the Environment Amendment Bill 2012. In summary, there are three primary elements to this bill. The first is that it inserts an objects section into the act. Secondly, it seeks to reflect in law changes that have already occurred in practice—namely, the expansion of the commissioner's functions to include sustainability monitoring and reporting. This expansion of functions has evolved over several years and has received support from both the government and the community, yet appropriate legislative changes have not been made, despite the government noting three years ago that they would be.
Thirdly, the bill aims to address loopholes in tabling and responding to the commissioner's reports. The current legislation lacks appropriate time frames for reports other than state of the environment reports to be responded to by the minister. It also enables the minister to sit on reports before tabling them in the Assembly. This is not compatible with the government's stated commitment to open government, and nor is it consistent with best practice environmental reporting or the furtherance of the ACT's sustainability goals.
In terms of the background of this, particularly on the expanded role, whilst the Commissioner for the Environment legislation has not kept pace with the evolving nature of environmental matters in the territory, practical discussion and steps to expand the commissioner's role have been unfolding for several years. It helps to