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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1746 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I am hoping that the government will use the opportunity of this MPI to clearly explain its role, as half-owner, in the decision-making processes of the joint venture, both in a legal and a practical sense. I also want the government to explain how it will be exercising this role, and to indicate what it sees as the priorities for ActewAGL in the coming years, or to admit, if that is what it wants to do, that it has given up on ActewAGL, so that at least we all know what is going on.

Until now, the government has been giving some quite confusing messages about its relationship to ActewAGL, so it should come clean and make clear what it is going to do about the legacy left behind by the Liberals.

MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for the Arts) (4.48): Mr Speaker, I present the apologies of Mr Quinlan. The various debates have gone on longer today than we expected, and he had to leave at about 4.30 to go to a ministerial meeting. Much as he would wish to be here in person, he cannot. He may have heard portions of your speech, Ms Tucker, but he is not able to respond in person. Nevertheless, he has left some instructions that I am happy to follow.

He says this is an important MPI. The government, as the owner of Actew, which is the half-owner of ActewAGL, is totally committed to ecological sustainability and social responsibility. The government has put in place policies and practices to ensure that these issues are thoroughly considered and sensibly pursued in Actew's investment in ActewAGL, and across all activities of the government.

Actew Corporation, the half-owner of ActewAGL, has shown itself to be an industry leader in terms of environmental and ecologically sustainable initiatives, not only in Australia but worldwide. Actew itself is fully committed to ensuring that its activities are economically sound, socially responsible and ecologically sustainable. This government's commitment to ecological sustainability is clear.

Sustainability is about development that meets the needs of today's generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It has three dimensions: the economy, the environment and society. Pursuing sustainability involves integrating these factors into decision-making. It is an approach, not an end point. We recognise that it is not sufficient to have a one-out policy on sustainability. We are ensuring that sustainability is a core tenet of policy development and implementation.

A key initiative of this government to achieve a thriving and sustainable Canberra that enjoys social equality, environmental quality and economic prosperity has been the establishment of the Office of Sustainability. The office has a cross-government role, and functions that include the development, facilitation, coordination and implementation of government policies and procedures related to sustainability. The office will provide expert advice to government agencies on such matters. It will liaise with business and the community on issues related to sustainability.

Informal discussions have already been undertaken with Actew, which has expressed its support for the government's sustainability agenda. The office is well advanced in developing a policy framework that will be released in draft form to the public for comment in the middle of the year, as the government works on developing that very important office.

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