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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (24 October) . . Page.. 1958 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I refer members to page 7 of the report, which mentions the environmental budget statement of 1994-95. It lists the outcomes for 1993-94. I will go through them because I think it is good to have them on the record. The outcomes are the ACT environment strategy; the national strategy for ESD and greenhouse response strategy; integrated environment protection legislation; "Canberra in the Year 2020"; gazettal of the Territory Plan; establishment of Mulligans Flat nature reserve; Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre; amendments to the Air Pollution Act 1984; Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology; ACT algal action plan; National Environment and Protection Council; environment grants program; review of the Land (Planning and Environment) Act; Landcare and environment action program; and Youth Conservation Corps. They are all issues that were dealt with under Labor.

The major issues dealt with in 1994-95 were employment growth from environmental initiatives; endangered species legislation; Ecotourism; ECOTEX 94; national manifest system; contaminated sites; Mulligans Flat nature reserve; house energy rating scheme; energy management; landscape design, xeriscape gardens, Weston and Civic; ACT weeds strategy; and the capital works program. Few governments could match those achievements.

A lot has happened since the report was tabled; a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Some say that there has been some dirty water since the Liberal Government came into office. It is timely to review the ACT's progress over the period of the Liberal Government since the report was handed down. It is appropriate to review that progress under the five main topics identified in the report and mentioned in Mr Humphries's speech. They are atmosphere, water, land, plants and animals, and the urban environment. This is about the performance of this Government. It is all right to respond to the report, but we really have to look at the early performance of this Government on the issue of the environment.

I think the first thing we have to look at - and this is one of the first issues that clouded us - is the atmosphere. In the ACT we are blessed with clean air. Happily, it is not just something we take for granted; we cherish it. For this reason, when air quality is threatened, people in the ACT react very strongly. We saw this when neighbouring New South Wales shires decided to conduct burn-offs recently. There was not any appropriate consultation with those shires by the Environment Minister. The ACT was inundated with smoke - something which not only downgrades - - -

Mr Humphries: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are happy to have a debate about the performance of the present Government on the environment, but this is a debate on the State of the Environment Report 1994. We are talking about the achievements or lack thereof of the former Government, not of this Government.

MR BERRY: No; I think he has got it wrong. This is about the environment. I will speak on the point of order. This is about the issues dealt with in the State of the Environment Report. It is most appropriate to send a message to the government of the day in relation to their performance in this matter. Mr Speaker, I think it is an outrageous misuse of the standing orders for somebody to stand and try to gag debate with such a point of order.

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