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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5284 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

committees, have spoken to the office about its need for extra resources and what it is to achieve. Until we get those indicators so that we can actually measure progress, it really will be hard to get a grasp on where the government is going.

Ms Dundas spoke about the Commissioner for the Environment's report and the way in which the government regularly ignores it. You would have to wonder whether the Office of Sustainability, which was the government's flagship environmental initiative in the lead-up to the election, was anything but merely paying lip service, absolute lip service, in terms of what they expected of it. We have heard several times from the office about the difficulty of coming up with the indicators, but at some stage we must say, "Okay, this is where we will start and we will refine them."I do not believe that we have reached that starting point yet.

I will conclude as I started. Truly, we have touched a nerve. It is obvious that the government is a bit touchy about its commitment to the environment being beyond reproach. We all know that there is much more to be done. You have only to look at the spread of Paterson's curse on government land to know that there is more to be done. You have only to look at the opening statement about the commitment to the environment being beyond reproach. The government's commitment to protecting the catchments is under some doubt. Sources have told me that the fires in January were out of control probably a week before the 18th and that the catchments were known to be under threat then, but very little, if anything, was done to protect the catchments. We are now suffering because of this government's lack of commitment to the environment.

MS TUCKER (4.59): I remind members that it was the Greens that put forward the motions for greenhouse targets and the water strategy and I have to say that the debate today has been extremely depressing. I have been sitting in this place for eight years, nine years or whatever listening to these kinds of accusations. In one way, we should be pleased that the environment is a topic that is raised in parliaments round Australia, but in my presentation today I would like to focus on the reality. I do not know whether anyone is going to listen to me, but that is what I would like to do today.

I will start with birds. I will take something from a presentation that Jenny Bounds from the Canberra Ornithologists Group gave at a forum we had here on the Gungahlin Drive extension, which both major parties in this place support. She linked O'Malley with the whole question of the Gungahlin Drive extension because the members of the community who understand the ecological sensitivities of Canberra are now coming together.

At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MS TUCKER: To quote Jenny Bounds:

When the limestone plains of what is now Canberra were settled in the nineteenth century, Bustards and Brolgas were common birds here, but they are now extinct locally.

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