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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2494 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

It would be entirely appropriate for the Government to have in its budget performance indicators which improve on past performance. Yet, in its response to the recommendations in the Estimates Committee report, the Government has dismissed this in relation to the environment and said that this is the responsibility of the Commissioner for the Environment; but the commissioner has not been given the resources that are needed. The Government has totally failed to understand the message which is so clear in the commissioner's most recent report. Responsibility for the environment is not something which lies with one part of government. Every part of government has responsibility.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (12.42 am): Madam Deputy Speaker, I have to reject the assertion that we do not take to heart and understand that particular point in the Commissioner for the Environment's report. One of the things the Government will be doing in the course of the next year or so is developing integrated environment protection legislation. What that means is not treating environment protection issues as just the responsibility of a particular area of government, but rather to work on the principle that a number of areas need to be involved in making things happen.

For example, yesterday I tabled in this place amendments to the Air Pollution Act which are about not just the Environment and Land Bureau or the Environment Protection Authority being able to go out there and deal with people who are producing unacceptable levels of smoke emission from their homes, but also having a mechanism for community consultation about what level of smoke emission is unacceptable, given that it is very hard to measure these things when they are coming out of someone's chimney 10 feet up in the air. Other issues to do with that obviously touch on the health budget, such as measuring acceptable levels of asthma and other diseases that are caused by smoke emissions in this city. Education plays a role in understanding how to burn fuel in a way which is not damaging to people's health, and so on.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I have met with the Commissioner for the Environment and I have discussed with him at length this question of integrating our environment response very much better than we have done in the past. I can assure the Greens that we will be taking that issue very seriously. I do not know why Ms Tucker says we are not going to. I do not think there is any evidence she can draw from the budget that this will not be the case. The comments made in the most recent report of the Commissioner for the Environment were on the last financial year, which was substantially a year under the previous Government. The comments he makes are quite accurate and they need to be built upon, and I assure her that they will be built upon.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

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