Page 3242 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 October 2022
whenever I raised it, I was told that that was not the case. But there is no need to fret, because the minister has now suspended the work of the ACT Heritage Council and commissioned a snap review into the council.
During estimates hearings I asked the minister about the review and whether she intended to release it publicly. I was shocked, because the minister’s answer, when I asked whether the review would be released publicly, was—I might be paraphrasing slightly—“It depends on what is in it.” How is that for transparency and accountability? Obviously, if something is going to be critical of the government, they do not want to release it. So it was a “depends on what is in it” response. I hope the minster is intending to release the report in full very soon.
Clearly, if we are at the point where the minister feels that she needs to suspend the work of the Heritage Council and undertake this review, then things are in a dire state. I acknowledge that this minister has taken on the portfolio only since the last election. But that is two years. It is now two years since the election. It also makes us wonder about what on earth was going on before that time. I look forward to the minister outlining her plan to improve the ACT Heritage Council and explaining how they will finally be properly resourced to issue development application advice within the 15 working days time frame.
Very briefly, I would like to talk about the water portfolio. This budget saw funds allocated to establishing an office for water in the next two financial years. I am very, very interested in this initiative. I will be watching it very closely. Of course, there is no point having a dedicated office for water unless it is appropriately and properly funded and resourced. It must have clear and realistic water quality targets, consistent systems for monitoring and an evidence-based decision-making and annual reporting framework. I very much hope that that is what we are going to see.
I look forward to seeing what progress is made over the next 12 months and to ensuring that Canberrans are getting the most for their money, for their rates that they pay to this government, in the portfolios of environment, heritage and water.
MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (4.32): I rise to support the Appropriation Bill, which includes a range of new measures that the government is pursuing to conserve, connect and restore nature to our city, protect our environment and heritage, and substantially lift the quality and the sustainability of the design and construction of new buildings. These measures will help us meet the objectives that the government has committed in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement.
I will first touch on environment. Before focusing on our local patch, I would like to turn to the bigger picture. The world is facing an increased twin crisis. Climate change and nature loss threaten irreversible changes to the global environment, changes that will profoundly impact on the wellbeing of millions of people around the world. So while much talk in the Assembly focuses, and importantly so, on the climate change crisis, these twin crises are fundamentally linked and should be tackled together. Nature-based solutions, such as conserving, restoring, and connecting ecosystems are key to the success.