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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 391 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

commissioner's present budget. It will have to be found. As Minister, I will do my best to find it from elsewhere in the budget. There are issues like the weeds strategy to come forward, which will be quite expensive over a long period of time and which we will need to start to move on quickly. I baulk a little bit at taking money away from them to put towards something else, but I am quite prepared to find the money. It is not an enormous amount of money. I indicate that I endorse the comment made by Mr Berry that it is important for us to synchronise the various arms of possible inquiry into these matters. There are a number of possible fora, and we need to make sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.

MS HORODNY (12.01), in reply: Mr Berry had some concerns about the Planning and Environment Committee being excluded from what was going on with this inquiry. I would just like to say that a way to make sure that the Planning and Environment Committee is involved in what is going on is to ensure that Dr Baker comes to the Planning and Environment Committee once a month and gives us a progress report on what is happening.

Mr Moore was correct in saying that this would be a very good first step for the Commissioner for the Environment towards a more proactive role in taking on issues and inquiries rather than just monitoring, although that is a very important role that he plays at the moment. There is no reason why his role cannot be expanded to include these sorts of issues. I think it is very good timing to have this inquiry at the same time as the draft weeds strategy is out, because I have a real concern, as I said earlier, that in trying to solve one problem we may create another. I have a real concern about ACT Forests using a particular chemical in aerial spraying around waterways. That is something that I hope this inquiry looks into.

The issue of resources is a critical one. Again I draw members' attention to the fact that, when we felt that there was a need to inquire into the leasehold system, half a million dollars became available. If there is a real commitment from this Government to the environment, as they say that there is, then I would like to see money become available for this inquiry. The Minister says that he will try to come up with $2,000. I have a feeling that it might require more money than that. I would like to see the steering committee work out its terms of reference, plus a timeline and a budget. I would like to see the Government make a real commitment to that, as they make commitments to business and other ventures that they feel are important. This is not just important; I believe that it is critical. I thank the members for their general support for this inquiry.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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