Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1841 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
This lack of policy expertise is showing up in the Government's flawed plans, as I have already mentioned briefly, for the ACTION bus fares and also the motor vehicle registration charges. In the planning area there has been the Manuka debacle, Kinlyside, the confusion over the planning of Civic, and the continuing inability to resolve development pressures in Turner and Braddon. In the environment area there are the flawed plans to set up a market in water and the commercialisation of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
The new vehicle registration fees are a good example of poor policy-making. The Greens support differential registration fees based on fuel efficiency, but the Government's proposal does not achieve this. The Government has wrongly equated the weight of vehicles with their fuel efficiency, as this proposal does not take into account the size and efficiency of the vehicle's engine. The department could easily have referred to the fuel consumption data on vehicles sold in Australia that has been collected by the Department of Primary Industries and Energy since 1981 for working out a better system of differential registration charges. Regardless of this, the Government has not even been consistent in using weight as the criteria for determining a vehicle's registration charge as it has increased the registration for most motorbikes, the lightest motor vehicles on the road, by 70 per cent.
The environment has been a major loser in this budget. The Government wants Canberra to be a clever, caring capital, but it seems that it does not want to make it ecologically sustainable. The Government says all the right words on being concerned about the environment, but fails to come up with real actions.
As an example, the Government said that greenhouse was going to be one of its priorities. In November 1997 the Government released its greenhouse gas reduction target and also announced that it would implement a range of measures to assist in reducing emissions. Some of these will require specific funding, such as the subsidy for low-flow showerheads, establishment of the Greenfleet program, the establishment of an energy advisory service, and greater energy efficiency in government buildings. But what is the allocation in this budget for the implementation of these measures? There is no mention of when these measures will be implemented. Was the announcement of these measures just an election ploy that the Government is now back-pedalling on, like the Belconnen pool?
The budget for Environment ACT has suffered considerably. While a number of new environmental initiatives have been included in the budget, such as $100,000 for weed hit teams, $150,000 for membership of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, $100,000 for a rural conservation trust, and $180,000 on eight new ranger traineeships, other parts of Environment ACT's funding have been cut to pay for these. There have been cuts to the calicivirus program, the Boboyan pines rehabilitation, Decade of Landcare funding, and the management of the Googong Dam reserve. The agency is also being expected to find 2 to 3 per cent efficiency savings across all its operations.