Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2908 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
Nor is the government's commitment to an independent environmental watchdog entirely convincing. The Office of the Commissioner for the Environment is clearly underresourced. The office has been allocated additional funding for some years to prepare state of environment reports, but the overall capacity of the office has not been increased when it is so clearly required.
But the Department of Urban Services is not just about rows of rubbish in the environment. Bill Wood, the self-styled Lord Mayor of Canberra, also has responsibility for the arts. As noted in the estimates report, $0.35 million is allocated to arts "other initiatives", with additional funding in the out years. How this money will be spent is still unclear. We have heard that the Centenary of Federation monument, due to be completed by June 2003, when we all know that the Centenary of Federation was 2001, has yet to be commissioned and is being held up with delays due to planning.
Overall, the government's spending in the area of urban services shows a lack of imagination and long-term vision. We need to reorder our priorities and spending on transport and environmental management if we are to create the sustainable future that the Chief Minister talks about.
MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (9.47): Mr Speaker, after that speech, I sincerely hope that Ms Dundas is going to be voting against the budget. I would be very surprised if she were prepared to endorse a document she has so roundly criticised. Conversely, if she is voting for the budget tonight, I would like to see what we would have to do to get a no vote out of her. Based on her assessment, this budget fails. Of course, the truth could not be further from what Ms Dundas has put forward.
The government is putting forward a comprehensive strategy for planning for our future and is doing so in a way that addresses the social, economic and environmental issues that will challenge our city for the next 30 years. I have already spoken a little on this in the in-principle debate, so I will not revisit it except to say that Ms Dundas' suggestion that the government is not looking at transport, land use planning or the related issues of building a more sustainable city is badly misplaced.
This is the first government in the history of self-government to seek to develop a strategic plan for our city. No such strategy has been in place since the release of the metropolitan plan by the National Capital Development Commission in the early 1980s. That is the magnitude and the importance of the work this government has embarked upon, and I would have thought it would be welcomed by members of the crossbench in particular, who have fought so long for this sort of exercise.
The government has put in place the development of an integrated transport plan for the city. That will be part of the spatial planning exercise the government will be undertaking over the next 18 months. The government is focusing in particular on improving public transport provision in the city, whether through infrastructure moves, such as dedicated busways, through alternative transport modes, such as light rail, or through a range of other measures designed to improve the attractiveness of public transport.