Page 3244 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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applications in relation to which there was any assessment of relative merit undertaken by either my office or me. This was a process that was delivered at arms-length from me as minister and from my office.

I would assume and hope and expect, and have no reason to doubt, that the process was rigorous and that the decisions that were made ultimately were decisions made on the basis of the respective environmental merit and deliverables of each of the applications that were made. To stand here and say, “Well, an applicant of previous years applied again and was not successful this year and this represents some policy deviation,” is simply not a proposition that I would accept.

The applications were made. They were assessed by community representatives and members of Environment ACT. Recommendations were made to me. I accepted those recommendations on face value, in other words, as recommendations based on a rigorous assessment of the competing merits of the programs. That is as it should be. I do not at this stage propose to intervene in the process to say, “In future I want applications from this particular applicant to receive some priority consideration,” because they think that their environmental credentials are better than the environmental credentials of somebody else doing work within the community. That is a philosophy that applies to all of our grants schemes, not just to environmental grants.

In relation to this government’s commitment to supporting peak organisations, I think it needs to be said that the Conservation Council of the South East Region & Canberra, the Environment Centre and the RSPCA are organisations that are significantly supported by this government. As I have previously reported to members of the Assembly, payments made to those organisations were quarantined from efficiency dividends, which members know are being asked of other organisations, indeed of government agencies, at cost, of course, to other parts of those particular agencies. To the extent that we quarantine any part of an organisation from an efficiency dividend, that means that the paying of the efficiency dividend is then simply directed to another agency or another organisation.

So, yes, we support the peak organisations. We particularly support the conservation council and the Environment Centre and, where we can, we support the Environmental Defender’s Office. The decision that we have taken to exclude organisations like the conservation council from the 5 per cent efficiency dividend that has been demanded across the board of Environment ACT needs to be understood by those organisations that benefited from that policy decision. That cost is being borne by other organisations, such as, perhaps, the Environmental Defender’s Office.

Disaster planning

MR PRATT: My question without notice is directed to the Chief Minister. On 8 August you said in your media release relating to the debate on terrorism:

… in the wake of the public release by NSW Premier Morris Iemma of the evacuation plan developed for Sydney, it was timely to reassure Canberrans that a similar, comprehensive evacuation plan was already well-developed for the ACT.

This morning on ABC radio Emergency Services Commissioner, Mr Dunn, when asked about your statement regarding Canberra’s well-advanced plans that were meant to be

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