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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 7 Hansard (7 August) . .

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This suite of bills supports a foundation belief of the government and a key objective of the Canberra plan, to ensure that all Canberrans enjoy the benefits of living in a community that is safe, socially inclusive and respectful of human rights, that all Canberrans are able to fully participate in community life, and that the most vulnerable in our community are respected and supported.

Under the government's commitment to environmental sustainability, the spring sittings will see important steps taken on delivering a sustainable future for the citizens of Canberra. The Canberra Plan: towards our second century, identifies sustainability as a strategic priority for the ACT government. The protection of the ACT's environment is key to our sustainability policy. Therefore, the government is developing a contemporary regulatory framework which prevents environmental degradation and supports the ACT's sustainable future program.

The government is also committed to making improvements identified in the review of the Environmental Protection Act 1997 and the Environment Protection Regulation 2005. The review identified the need for amendments to ensure the legislation remains effective and contemporary in the face of community growth, societal attitudes, environmental practices and changes within environmental science and technology.

The Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2014 will address matters such as broadening the definition of "environmental harm" to include potential harm as well as actual harm and the introduction of civil penalties and enforceable undertakings to expand the regulatory tools available to the Environment Protection Authority. These changes, alongside the streamlining of processes and the removal of green tape are fundamental to contemporising the legislation and its operation in a number of other jurisdictions.

Alongside this, amendments to the Nature Conservation Bill 2014 will continue to build on the strong framework that the 1980 act created by improving alignment of ACT law with those of other jurisdictions, providing additional accountability and transparency and facilitating flexible approaches to management of species and ecosystems. The protection and management of biodiversity is fundamental to the achievement of a sustainable city.

This outline gives just a snapshot of the government's extensive legislative and policy reform program. Across all portfolios, the government is undertaking further analysis and policy development, and it is pleasing to give legislative effect to this work. Ultimately, the new bills and amendments we will introduce are aimed at direct improvements in the workings of government, prosperity of our city, growth in our economy and the quality of life in our community.

I thank my ministerial colleagues and the Chief Minister for their leadership and members for their engagement across these numerous priorities. I look forward to the Assembly debating these important changes for Canberra.


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