Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2842 ..
MRS CROSS (continuing):
On a final point: the government's commitment to establishing a multicultural centre has been exposed as being rather shallow. Indeed, by its own admission, the government is still working out whether there is even a need for a multicultural centre and is yet to give a serious commitment to the project. The Chief Minister informed the Estimates Committee that his department is still in the process of surveying the community to assess the need for a centre. If they had listened to the community over the past couple of years they would already know the answer is yes and moved on to doing serious planning. Unlike Labor, the Liberals gave a firm commitment at the last election to building a multicultural centre in the city centre-a promise we would have fulfilled by October 2004.
There are many things that make Canberra a special place to live. One of those is our diverse ethnicity. I am disappointed that the government is dragging its feet on this issue and appears to place limited value on the contribution that our multicultural groups can make to our community. Canberra does need a multicultural centre. I am sure that our ethnic communities would make good use of a common resource centre, office space, meeting rooms and performance areas. If our multicultural groups are to fully contribute to community life it is essential they have the resources and facilities to do so. To date they have been poorly served by this government-a government that promised them so much during seven years of opposition and has yet to deliver anything of substance.
MS TUCKER (3.47): I would like to make a few overarching comments. I am not going to address every detail of the budget. A lot of the changes the Greens are looking for in how the ACT government sets priorities will happen over time and, given that it has some reviews, strategies and white papers under development at present, the real measure of this government will probably be next year's budget.
In terms of vision for a diverse and sustainable community that we are pursuing here in Canberra, the Greens do have concerns with the approach the government is taking, and I will touch on those concerns as we work through the budget.
As you would expect, the Chief Minister's Department is home to direction-setting projects such as the Office of Sustainability, the development of a social plan and the economic development white paper, while even the review of tourism support has, or might have, some visionary component.
The budget does not actually put any costs on running the Office of Sustainability and the only measure seems to be the "development of a sustainability framework" under strategic policy coordination and development. There is a considerable amount of work in this area going on around the world and the establishment of an expert panel to guide the office, whatever it is, should make a difference when it comes to "triple bottom line" accounting. I would like to suggest a performance indicator on this project, namely 2002-03 budget papers presented within a sustainability framework, with the social and environmental indicators explicitly built in.
It seems to me that while we have yet to deliver on the ecological sustainability front, we do have a fairly good grasp of what we are aiming for. Judging from what happened under the past government with its car races and football stadiums, economic sustainability is honoured more in the breach than in realisation. At least we have a fairly solid handle on the idea but social sustainability is a bit more up for grabs.