Page 3244 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 October 2022

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The protection of the environment and our community’s wellbeing remains a key priority for this government. As we move in this direction, funding will be provided over two years to strengthen the ACT’s Environment Protection Authority through additional resources. To complement the work that Minister Cheyne is doing in this space, this budget will also fund a review of the environment protection framework and additional resources to support compliance and enforcement.

In the area of heritage, the 2022-23 budget continues to conserve and celebrate the ACT’s places and objects of historic First Nation and natural heritage significance. This ongoing work focuses on the areas of recognition and the involvement of the traditional custodians in the management of First Nations heritage, supporting the Heritage Council in its functions to recognise, conserve and celebrate the places and objects of historic First Nations and natural heritage and supporting the community to conserve heritage in their care.

As has just been discussed in this chamber, we are doing work to better support the Heritage Council in their ongoing work, and we have already put additional resources into this area. I will update the Assembly as we work through this work.

The ACT government has awarded 20 ACT Heritage Grants in the 2022-23 financial year that preserve and celebrate the unique stories of the ACT’s heritage and history. The 2022-23 grant program focused on the heritage of the ACT’s diverse communities and recognised the increasingly important role of the digital heritage experience. Finally, the Heritage Festival, now in its 39th year, is an iconic and popular event that we continue to support. In 2022, more than 177 diverse events took place across Canberra and the region and the number of First Nations events was tripled. We are extremely proud to continue to support this fantastic community event which celebrates the importance of heritage to Canberra and the region.

I will finally just note some work in the area of sustainable building and construction. As we discussed this morning, through our building reform project and in looking at some of the recommendations of previous reviews, we are progressing the initiatives that are intended to give greater choice and protection for the community and making sure that those working in the building and construction industry are accountable for their actions. As I noted, these include reforms such as the registration of professional engineers, developer regulation and a public certification service. I was going to provide some more detail, but we did that this morning, so I am going to move on.

However, I would like to talk quickly about the Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme that was established in 2014 to address the serious risk presented to the Canberra community by loose-fill asbestos in homes. The scheme was administered by the Asbestos Response Taskforce from October 2014 until the task force’s closure on 30 June 2022. The task force, over its eight years of operation, made significant progress to realise the ACT government’s goal of eradicating loose-fill asbestos insulation from the homes of Canberrans. At the closure of the task force on June 30, 1,006 of the 1,029 properties affected by loose-fill asbestos insulation had been remediated. I would like to take this opportunity to underscore the importance of this complex work and commend the many ACT public servants who worked in the task force over its eight years.

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