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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1369 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I commend Dr Baker and Dr Sims for the enormous effort they have made to produce this report. But I do want to add that it became clear to me in my discussions with them that a lot of the work that was done in developing this CD-ROM was done by people from outside the Office of the Commissioner for the Environment - people from the ANU and other scientists and professionals around the city - at a very low cost, if not no cost at all.

I think if we are to continue to produce such a comprehensive and detailed document the Government must give serious consideration to requests from the Commissioner for the Environment for the resourcing needed to ensure that we are not relying on gratis expertise from officers outside the ACT Government, which is what has occurred in this case. I hope that the Chief Minister and the Minister for the Environment listen very carefully to any requests that may come from the Commissioner for the Environment along those lines. We do not want to have a situation where this sort of document is being prepared free by officers outside the Government and where that advice may not be ongoing and that capacity may not always exist. We need to make sure that those resourcing issues are addressed. Nevertheless, this is a valuable document, if one can call it that, and I look forward to being able to use it in my work. I am sure that other Assembly members, if they take the time to analyse the use of it, will find it useful in theirs too.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (3.38): Mr Speaker, I will just make a brief comment. I think other members have canvassed the virtue of this CD-ROM and its presentation. Dr Joe Baker, who is the Commissioner for the Environment, and Helen Sims, the office manager, have done tremendous work. The most important thing about it is recognition that environment does not finish at borders. The water that flows into the ACT comes from New South Wales and goes back to New South Wales. The weed seeds, as they fly in the air, recognise no borders. As a responsible member of a local community, and because of the leadership that we are giving in our region, I think it is very important that a report such as this recognise that we, as the Territory, are interdependent with the entire region and that the future of the environment depends on all of us.

As to requests for funding, I will have to confirm this, Mr Speaker, but I understand that a large proportion of the money that went to the original report was provided in a series of one-off grants from the Federal Government. In relation to discussions with Dr Baker, we have not said that we would not fund such a report. We are continuing our negotiations with Dr Baker to ensure that we come up with an option that pleases everyone.

With those who gave advice and assisted in the production of the CD-ROM, I think we have come up with quite a leader here for the rest of the country. It is just another way in which the ACT Government and the people of the ACT are proving that we really are a clever city; that we are willing to take opportunities to change and to make sure that we are doing things the best way that we can. The fact that no tree or no piece of paper has been used in the production of this report sets a wonderful example. The previous Minister and the Chief Minister are to be congratulated for the way this has been done.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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