Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 595 ..
MS TUCKER: If appropriate. So, we will have a motion if you do not think it is appropriate, like the last question. My supplementary question is: Does the Government intend to change this service from a counselling and supported referral role that provides a training calendar to a service that merely hands out information and referral telephone numbers? If so, is this why a librarian is currently acting in the coordinator's role?
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I would have to find out about the librarian position. As I have said, I have the report and will consider it and, when appropriate, will release it.
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Minister for Urban Services. Can the Minister confirm that he has broken a Liberal election promise to maintain sufficient funding to the Conservation Council of the South-East Region and Canberra for a full-time director by refusing to provide $55,000 annual funding for the council next financial year? What justification does the Minister have for breaking this election commitment to the community, and how does he intend to explain to the 37 member organisations of the council his failure to continue to support the activities of the peak environment body in the ACT?
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, it is quite curious that Mr Corbell always starts his questions with an assertion of some sort of fact. I checked on Liberal Party election promises with the man - - -
Mr Corbell: They are usually true. They are a bit like independent studies, really.
MR SMYTH: See, this is it; he just does not like it when we get to the heart of it. I checked with the individual who was responsible for environment policy in the lead-up to the last election - Mr Humphries will confirm this - and it is his recollection that he made no such promise.
MR CORBELL: I have a supplementary question. Can the Minister confirm that a review was undertaken of the funding arrangements for environment groups which justifies this decision to remove funding from the council on the basis that it currently is provided? Will he table, before the adjournment of the Assembly today, a copy of the review and the Government's response? Further, will the Minister indicate whether or not he believes that the conservation council will be able to continue to effectively operate in its key role as the peak environment group for the ACT with an effective budget cut of 50 per cent?
MR SMYTH: Again, Mr Speaker, Mr Corbell makes assertions. These are not facts. There was a review, and I think it was quite a public review, of environmental grants funding. It was so public that, when we finished the review, we called for applications under the outcome of the review. The review itself said that we should make grants available under five categories. It is quite clear, Mr Speaker, that there is a large interest, and I expect a large number of applications for these grants. What Mr Corbell is saying is that under a grants process he wants me to guarantee funding for one group over another.