Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2753 ..
in Australia. There were letters in the paper the other day saying we need a natural history museum to celebrate and understand our environment better—that would be a great thing. What has Mr Barr got? Nothing.
MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (4.36): The first item I would like to cover is triple-bottom-line reporting. Page 265 of BP3 states:
In 2010-11, the Government will finalise development on a new triple bottom line assessment tool, and implement its use across Government.
I certainly hope this is the case. However, I do have a few concerns. The first is that the evidence that was given to the estimates committee was not nearly so unequivocal. Whilst there was a level of certainty in the application of the tool for reporting purposes, most notably in annual reports, there was only secondary consideration given to an assessment tool. The second and more substantive concern was well expressed in the ACIL Tasman report. Page 29 says:
… while Chapter 8 provides a useful recitation on ACT Government policy settings in relation to the environment, the material provided does not provide any indicators on progress towards achieving particular environmental policy goals.
This is a key concern that the Greens have consistently expressed. It is no good putting resources into developing something that is not of any real use. Unless we can actually evaluate policy or outcomes against established targets or criteria, such a tool is of little real value. In relation to the government’s ability to develop a framework of performance measures, it is doubtful as to whether separating initiatives into social, environmental and economic outcomes without linking them in any way to any financial expenditure information contributes to a deeper level of understanding of the triple bottom line.
Each of the three tests must be applied so the relative implications of all can be assessed. A summary of measures or policies grouped together is not what triple-bottom-line reporting is about. Whilst there have been some positive developments and some greater understanding shown by the government with regard to developing a “line of sight” approach, the slow progress and limited recognition of the need to analyse all the impacts of each policy decision rather than grouping them into categories remains a concern.
This year’s estimates committee made specific reference to the need for a prospective analysis to aid our ability to evaluate all legislation and budget initiatives. I would again make the point that, as responsible legislators, it is essential that we have all the relevant information available to us and that we consistently endeavour to develop new means of assessing and presenting information to ensure the best outcomes.
I must note with disappointment the very limited government responses to the estimates committee recommendation No 4. It may well be that the government does take into account the economic, social and environmental impacts, but we have no means of knowing how comprehensive the analysis is, if it is correct or even if it actually exists. As members, we have no capacity to assess the adequacy of these