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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1612 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Assembly, nor is it sometimes necessarily desirable, to implement them in every last detail.

I think Ms Tucker acknowledges that, because in her motion, which we support, she "calls on the government to adopt the Earth Charter as a framework of principles to help guide the work of its Office of Sustainability". That is what it is all about-to help guide the Office of Sustainability. I have no doubt the office will look most seriously at these important principles and will be very strongly guided by them, and that is the way it should be. That is why we are supporting the motion as it stands. We will not be supporting the amendment because we understand that Ms Tucker's motion is concerned with the guiding principles and not every fine detail of the Earth Charter.

MR SMYTH (11.35): Mr Speaker, I am delighted to rise and speak on the importance of the Earth Charter because I had a small hand in getting it to the stage that we are at today. I have to admit that the Earth Charter was originally brought to my attention in December 1999 by Ms Tucker. I believe that the first Earth Charter conference in Australia was to be held in Adelaide. However, the South Australian government withdrew their support at the last moment, literally leaving the Earth Charter high and dry.

We as a government thought that this was very important, given our record on the environment and our commitment to the environment. So in discussions with Ms Tucker and Brendan Mackie from the ANU, who has been fostering this process around the country, it was decided that we would hold the inaugural Earth Charter conference of Australia here in Canberra. That happened in early 2000. It was absolutely delightful to have Sir William Deane, as Governor-General, come and open the conference. Gary Humphries spoke on behalf of the government, and later on in the conference I had the honour of giving an address.

There has been a lot of work done since then. The charter that we started with has changed and I think in the main it does express the sentiments of the community. But, as has been pointed out, it is a guide only. It is not to become soft law but these are things that we should aspire to.

As Mrs Dunne has indicated in her amendment, we have some small concerns that some of the areas are not relevant to the ACT, particularly the Office of Sustainability. With that in mind, we have moved our amendment to make sure that the relevant parts of the Earth Charter that pertain to the ACT are used in guiding the work of the Office of Sustainability.

We have moved on-we have moved on 10 years from Rio. Given what happened in Rio 10 years ago, it would be interesting to see the world adopt such a charter in Johannesburg this year. It will be interesting to see what other jurisdictions come forward and put their hands up. There are a growing number of jurisdictions around the world that are doing that. I think most people of reasonable mind who looked at the 16 guiding principles, under which there are sub-principles, could say, "Yes, I agree with that." So with the one small caveat that we have set out in our amendment, the opposition will be supporting the motion and endorsing the Earth Charter.

Amendment negatived.

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