Page 902 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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projects now under way, the completion of them and of reporting to the Assembly on the government’s progress.

Mr Seselja: Mr Speaker, would the minister move that the Assembly takes note of the paper?


That the Assembly take note of the paper.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sustainable urban development—mandatory benchmarks

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received letters from Dr Foskey, Ms MacDonald and Mr Mulcahy, proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79 I have determined that the matter proposed by Dr Foskey be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of setting mandatory benchmarks for sustainable urban development.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.31): I was inspired to write this speech following the debate in the Assembly of the Greens’ motion for the BASIX scheme to be adopted for new residential dwellings. As you know, that scheme would have made measures for water and energy efficiency mandatory—measures which our experience shows are necessary to give us any hope of meeting our targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2008.

I do not plan today to argue the need for action on these and other environmental fronts. Those who do not yet understand the urgency for action must have spent their lives watching Big Brother and ignoring the Canberra Times. In essence, I argue today that it is essential that in this term the government take the bit in its teeth and decide that it wants to be responsible for making this territory a leader in all the things it talks about: sustainable transport systems; urban design, which allows us to reduce our water and energy use, enhances social interaction and builds community; and protection of nature parks which link inner Canberra to Namadgi in the south—a city, in short, which is in harmony with its environment.

This government have made “sustainability” a central theme: we have the Office of Sustainability; we have many plans for sustainability; we have a report entitled Measuring our progress—Canberra’s journey to sustainability; the government intend to introduce sustainability legislation; and we often hear the Chief Minister talk about sustainability. “Sustainability” is a term with different meanings to different people. While the Chief Minister might argue, as he did at a recent committee hearing, that sustainability is not just about the environment, there can be no doubt that it does include the environment, along with social justice and developing the kind of economy that enhances both. Indeed, it would be hard to separate the three planks of sustainability and the Greens argue that none is attainable or desirable without the others.

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