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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 988 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

In the last budget, the appropriation for the environment and heritage represented 1.1 per cent of the total budget. If we are to take sustainability on as a key part, we must look at the environment, we must look at heritage, we must look at planning. Obviously, that is going to take resources. The funding in the last budget was not adequate to match the pretty words that have come from government about the environment. I hope that we see an increase in funding in this year's budget to match the words that we have heard and the commitment that has been made to the environment.

MRS DUNNE (11.39), in reply: Mr Speaker, this is the second report of the planning and environment committee of the Fifth Assembly. I think all members of the committee have mixed feelings about the report. All members were grateful for the opportunity to consult widely with the community in our area of responsibility.

As all the committee members are neophytes, it was a great opportunity to get to know, in a formal sense, the members of the community and to see the issues that they wish to bring before us. The issues that they brought before us were quite diverse and, although many of them were not necessarily budget related, they helped to inform the committee about things that we might have to consider at a later time. I would like to mention a couple of those.

The re-design of the energy efficiency rating scheme was raised by a number of groups. The efficiency rating scheme has been here for a long time, and there has been considerable discussion in the ACT media just this week about its efficacy or otherwise. The need to look at compliance and inspectorate systems in the areas of planning, environment and urban services was also raised. I think when we have the time to consider them, those matters might be referred to our committee.

I would like to highlight some budget issues, and one has been referred to by Ms Dundas. One of the issues is the extent to which environment and heritage is funded in the budget. We are concerned about the small proportion of the budget that is available to environment and heritage. As Ms Dundas has said, this does not reflect a new-found desire for sustainability. I do not believe that the Office of Sustainability, tucked away in the ivory tower of the Chief Minister's Department, can do this by itself. There needs to be an increase in environment and heritage and conservation funding. We work from a low base, and it was the view of the community groups who came to us that any improvement would be good. But in this case I feel I need to flag that the evidence that came before the estimates committee about the possibility of a 2 per cent across-the-board cut would be extremely detrimental to the work of conservation, land management, environment and heritage.

Another issue that was raised, which I refer on to the minister and the Treasurer without much comment one way or the other, is the wood heating rebate scheme and the issues of particulates that that raises. This is an issue that has had some coverage in the media as recently as this week. Other issues include the need for more rangers to help with the enforcement of our environmental regulations and the proposal for a community planning adviser.

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