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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (4 August) . . Page.. 3412..


MS DUNDAS (continuing):

we have that flexibility within government agencies and in our delivery of government services. That was an interesting point that came out of the sessions relating to public-private partnerships. In the paper presented by Professor Graeme Hodge from Monash University in Melbourne is the following statement:

Recent privatisation experience in Australia teaches us that significant care has been needed to achieve citizen and consumer benefits through strong and independent regulatory frameworks in sectors such as electricity. These regulatory institutions need to be resistant to capture by private companies, and need also to be underpinned by legislation and practices that maximise transparency to citizens and other stakeholders. There is no reason to suspect that any less care will be needed in order to guarantee citizen benefits from PPPs-indeed, the potential use of any mega-credit card arrangement by government should send waves of concern to citizens worried about the misalignment of political incentives in the short-term compared to long-term implications and financial outcomes.

So quite a number of interesting and different points of view were raised relating to public-private partnerships at the National Conference of Parliamentary Environment and Public Works Committees. There are a lot of information and other issues for the government and the Assembly to consider in the future. However, the conference was not only about public-private partnerships. I was lucky enough to participate in the environment stream of the conference that focused on sustainability and what we are doing to achieve it.

This conference followed previous conferences in which we have had debates about sustainability and the concepts that we are trying to achieve. We are now looking at what we are doing to achieve those sustainability goals. Some interesting papers were put forward relating to water management, how we manage different catchments across Australia, the role of agriculture in sustainability and catchment management, what is happening in our farming sector and how that is impacting on our environment. The Green Building Council of Australia presented a paper that dealt with the need for sustainability in urban design.

Those who participated in the environment stream were lucky enough to have two international guests presenting specific challenges. A speaker from the Pacific Island countries and territories talked about ongoing challenges that were being faced by islanders trying to achieve sustainability in an environment where an island is sinking. That led to some interesting problems. Australia, a strong, rich and sustainable country is putting pressure on its Pacific neighbours to achieve environmental, social and economic sustainability when they are still struggling with the day-to-day problems of keeping their communities alive and maintaining the importance of their cultural identity. Australia as a nation needs to take on board some strong challenges as it looks at its relationship with its Pacific neighbours.

We also had guests from Sweden who talked about the Swedish government's environmental objectives. They have picked up 15 key targets and set up an assessment scheme to determine how they are achieving sustainability. One of the interesting things about the scheme is that it includes parliamentary accountability and debate and the need to review environmental and sustainability legislation every four years to ensure that policy instruments are working. It also enables the Swedish government to take whatever


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