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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1610 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The Earth Charter advocates respect for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice and democracy, non-violence and peace. The development of a social plan, an economic white paper, a bill of rights and a spatial plan represent a few of the integrated initiatives this government has promised to deliver-initiatives that are part of this government's commitment to achieving a sustainable way of life.

As I have already stated, I consider the principles embodied in the Earth Charter to generally underpin the actions of a responsible government and therefore the work of the office and the advancement of the sustainability agenda of this government will generally be in accord with the Earth Charter.

This government has a fundamental belief in the egalitarianism of our community, in respecting individuals human rights and in achieving economic, social and environmental sustainability. This government has already made clear and tangible commitments in this regard and will continue to operate in accord with, but not limited to, principles like those contained in the Earth Charter.

Whilst the Earth Charter will be one of a range of documents that guide the work of the Office of Sustainability, the principles in the charter are broad and general. In addition, this government feels it is important that the principles that will guide the work of the office are developed in collaboration with the ACT community and suit the ACT's unique social, environmental and economic circumstances.

This government supports the principles embodied in the Earth Charter and Ms Tucker's motion.

MS DUNDAS (11.28): Mr Speaker, I also rise today to add my support to the motion moved by Ms Tucker. While the motion signifies the continuing support of the Assembly for the development of the Earth Charter, it also states that we should commit ourselves to work towards the implementation of the charter, cooperating with others to do so.

The Earth Charter is an important statement of principles which are entirely consistent with the objectives that the Australian Democrats have worked for over the last 25 years. The Earth Charter is not just a environmental document, although environmental sustainability is a central theme throughout. It is also about the responsibilities that we have to both the biosphere and to each other. The charter encompasses important concepts such as peace, the eradication of poverty, social agenda and racial equality, the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, participatory democracy, the precautionary principle and the elimination of corruption. It is a valuable document that states in clear and simple language the values of principles that will hopefully lead to a healthy, equitable and sustainable planet.

I note that the Office of Sustainability continues to develop within the Chief Minister's Department and I am happy to commend and support this initiative. The office gives us an opportunity not only to recognise the important principles of this Earth Charter but to begin using them in the governance of this territory. I believe that the work of the office could only be improved by the adoption of the charter as a framework and a guide. I hope that the Assembly supports the motion so that we can make this a reality.

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