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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 November 2007) . . Page.. 3592 ..

Sustainability legislation

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.03): I move:

That this Assembly:

acknowledges that sustainability legislation is vital to the climate change strategy; and

calls upon the ACT Government to keep to its 2004 election commitment to introduce sustainability legislation in this term of government, by releasing:

for full public consultation, the 2005 sustainability legislation discussion paper; and

a timeline for comment, public meetings and the tabling and debating of the legislation.

This week we had an updated report from the IPCC about the urgency of climate change and its effects on the planet. Some of the effects, such as the rate of icecap melt in the Arctic and ice-shelf melt in the Antarctic were not expected to occur for at least another 20 years, if not the end of the century. This report was based on research concluded in February; one scientist has said that at this rate of change February’s research is already too old.

This brings me to the first part of my motion today, calling on the Assembly to acknowledge “that sustainability legislation is vital to the climate change strategy”. Recently we have had a few debates about this strategy. I do not wish to repeat them now. What I do want to emphasise is that strategies come and go. We have seen a greenhouse strategy with targets come, and we have seen it go, leaving the ACT strategy-less until July this year.

As a key plank of its environment platform for the 2004 ACT election, the Labor Party announced its intention to introduce sustainability legislation. It was intended to set in place a sustainability code of practice to assist in the incorporation of sustainability into the decisions, actions and operations of government agencies; financial management guidelines for evaluating the sustainability of activities and programs of government agencies; sustainability procurement guidelines for agencies; a sustainability fund to promote and support innovation in sustainability; and a framework for sustainability reporting by government.

Environment organisations welcomed this announcement. In voting for a Stanhope Labor government, people thought that they were voting for a government which intended to embed sustainability in all its processes. We are still waiting for this legislation. It amazes me how easy it is for governments to make promises but then not enact them. Despite a number of government initiatives on sustainability, which we applaud, we still have not seen any legislation specifically identifying key issues which should be integrated with existing legislation as well as areas of sustainability which need a separate bill.

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