Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 3 August 2022) . . Page.. 2267 ..
If you are very, very concerned about debt, and that is your No. 1 priority, then that is a policy direction that can be pursued. It is open to the Leader of the Opposition in her address in reply tomorrow to outline a net debt reduction path, and one way to achieve it—I will offer this policy advice—is to say, “No new infrastructure.” But I do not think that is the position that the Leader of the Opposition will pursue.
I put the challenge out today that it is open to the Leader of the Opposition in her address in reply to identify any project across the territory’s forward infrastructure spend that is financed by our borrowings that she would not go ahead with. What would you not go ahead with, Ms Lee? That is the opportunity that is there for you. If you are concerned about debt, and apparently it is something that requires you to hyperventilate on the television news.
Ms Lee: Hyperventilate on the television news!
MADAM SPEAKER: Members, enough!
MR BARR: I am comfortable that the government can borrow for infrastructure, as I have explained in my response to the earlier question. I am comfortable with that, because I think it is important to invest in the infrastructure that this growing community needs. Yes, government will need to borrow to do so, but we borrowed prudently at low interest rates. We borrowed when interest rates were the lowest in the history of the Federation, and it is locked in at that low interest rate for a decade. (Time expired.)
MS CLAY: My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Minister, I am really pleased to see we have a lot of policies and programs to support our environment, like the $10 million to support nature conservation and long term funding for our volunteer groups looking after the land and the wildlife. But the latest State of the Environment Report shows we are in a critical way. Minister, have you increased funding for our environment in this budget?
MS VASSAROTTI: Thank you Madam Speaker. Thank you Ms Clay for the question.
I think anyone who read the State of the Environment Report, finally released a couple of weeks ago, has been very sobered by it. While it does reflect some of the findings of the ACT 2019 Report, it is still very stark and very concerning. Certainly, it has made me more determined than ever to make sure this government is doing more. I am really pleased to say, as Minister for the Environment, we are doing more.
In comparison to health and education, the spend on environment is pretty small. It is a pretty small piece of the budget pie. I am happy to state that the slice for the environment under my new portfolio has increased since I have become Minister.
So, when we look at the EPSDD budget, the investment into environment in this area has increased from nine per cent in 2019-20 to 15 per cent in 2022-23. If we look beyond my own patch of the environment, at the investment into water, parks and