Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1117..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
focused very much on the development of policy for, in the broad, water and energy issues, including all issues associated with that in a policy sense. At that stage I was not the Minister for the Environment. It was only when I became Minister for the Environment that, for operational reasons, it was decided to merge into the Office of Sustainability some of the practical or application functions the department of environment is responsible for in the Office of Sustainability.
Under the new ministerial arrangements I have taken the decision to incorporate environment with the Department of the Territory and Municipal Services. In the context of other decisions made, much of my thinking was to create, to the greatest extent possible, a single point for land management within the territory. I took into account a range of other decisions and considerations across the board in the ministerial arrangements and structures I eventually decided upon. Nevertheless, I was intent on ensuring that issues around water and energy policy remain vested in the Chief Minister. I believe there is a real significance in these most important issues being my responsibility and contained within the Chief Minister's Department.
It was logical that management or application issues in relation to management of, for instance, water be retained in and returned to the environment portfolio which is now, as you know, part of the Department of the Territory and Municipal Services. The rationale was the desire to ensure that an all-of-government policy approach vesting in the Chief Minister, as the minister responsible for the central agency, retain responsibility for water and energy policy.
In relation to the application and implementation of initiatives pursued under the broad ambit of, say, water policy management and the management of many of the programs, it is logical that they now be vested in Environment ACT, which has that overarching responsibility. That is the broad justification but there is a determination or commitment to ensure that high level policy issues in relation to water and energy remain the responsibility of the central department—the Chief Minister's Department—whilst acknowledging that the Minister for the Environment, through Environment ACT, will have responsibility for implementing many of the actions decided upon in those areas.
DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, can you assure the Assembly that, while it no longer reports to the Chief Minister and has been separated from sustainability policy and placed under municipal services, greenhouse policy is still a whole-of-government priority? Could you please advise us how it will be pursued across government agencies?
MR STANHOPE: I certainly give the absolute commitment that issues in relation to climate change and energy and water policy—and energy policy in particular, which goes to the heart of the development of a climate change strategy—will of course be pursued at an all-of-government level. I guess that was the rationale and the reason why I retained overarching responsibility for myself as Chief Minister, and through the central department—the Chief Minister's Department—for water and energy policy.
As Chief Minister I remain deeply committed to climate change and greenhouse issues. It is a very active campaign. The point I am seeking to make is that, as Chief Minister, I remain responsible for decisions taken on energy policy and water policy. The Chief Minister's Department remains responsible. The Office of Sustainability will be retained