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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1234 ..

Sustainability agenda

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Chief Minister and Minister for the Environment. Can the minister outline the level of community support for the government's commitment to pursue a sustainability agenda?

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, sustainability is clearly an issue that is close to the heart of all Canberrans. There has been an enormous level of community support for the government's decision to pursue a sustainability agenda in the ACT. For example, after my announcement in June last year that we were establishing a sustainability expert reference group, the office of sustainability received over 80 nominations for membership of the group. The Sustainability Expert Reference Group contains an enormous breadth and depth of expertise and commitment to sustainability. It has been closely involved in the development of our recently released sustainability policy-People Place Prosperity-and has given the document its endorsement.

The office of sustainability consulted widely in the development of the sustainability policy. This included providing numerous briefings to public forums, industry, community and government organisations and advisory groups, as well as conducting a sustainability workshop. The office also linked these activities with the Canberra Plan consultation process to achieve efficiencies.

The office received over 40 submissions to our Towards a Sustainable ACT discussion paper from a wide variety of areas in the community, including peak business, industry, environment, social welfare and education organisations, as well as government advisory groups, community groups, academics and individuals. Overwhelmingly, these submissions congratulated the government on its initiative and leadership in pursuing a sustainability agenda.

For example, ACTCOSS said that it "believes the Government has shown real leadership in generating debate on sustainability issues"; the Canberra Business Council said that "the initiative taken by the ACT Government ... will yield considerable benefits for the community of the ACT and the broader regional community".

The Canberra Business Council has pursued with me the possibility and prospect of continuing the partnership between the ACT government and the business council in relation to sustainability issues. The Conservation Council of the South East Region and Canberra congratulated me on moving so expeditiously to fulfil my election promise to establish an office of sustainability and create a sustainable Canberra. Indeed, the Conservation Council of the South East Region and Canberra repeated those congratulations at the launch of People Place Prosperity, and expressed its satisfaction with the pace at which the ACT government is pursuing a sustainability agenda.

Also at the launch of People Place Prosperity on 27 March, Mr James Moody, a successful young businessman, and Professor Bob Wasson, who is head of the sustainability reference group and a respected academic and environmental expert, expressed their support for the government's commitment to sustainability. They congratulated me and the government on People Place Prosperity as the most advanced document of its kind released in Australia.

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