Page 3751 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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Out of step: so what? Is that the test? Is it the test of the Liberal Party in the ACT that you must conform with what your colleagues are doing? Is it the test of the Liberal Party in the ACT that you must be a creature of John Howard and his right wing neoconservatives up on the hill, that the measure and the mark of whether you are a successful member of the ACT Assembly is whether you can match Peter Costello or Tony Abbott? Their test of success for a member of the Legislative Assembly is how consistent your views are with those of Tony Abbott, Peter Costello, John Howard, Brendan Nelson or Eric Abetz—heaven forbid! That is the measure of success of a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly in the ACT.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The minister’s time has expired.

Environment—solar cities program

DR FOSKEY: Chief Minister, my question relates to your statement in Monday’s Canberra Times that the ACT is uniquely placed to create a model for a sustainable city-state that could “inspire the world”. This contrasts rather sharply with the answer that your office gave me about why the ACT did not sign up to the federal government’s $75 million solar cities program. That answer was that the ACT had little likelihood of success as only proposals that could serve as a national showcase on a large scale would be given preference and, further, that the ACT lacks the critical mass of secondary industry needed to gain benefit from the trial.

Chief Minister, could you outline how the ACT could develop a model for a sustainable city-state that could inspire the world if it has passed up the opportunity to develop a model that is a national showcase?

MR STANHOPE: The ACT is well placed to be a model, and to some extent I believe already is a model, of sustainability, and to that extent we can be thankful for the fact that we are a relatively young city, an extremely well-planned city, in Australian and world terms an affluent city and a city that is essentially a city-state in a jurisdiction which, just as a starting point, comprises 54 per cent of nature reserve. As we dwell on the need for us to pursue a sustainable future and to become a sustainable city that is the envy of the world as a showcase for sustainability throughout the world, we have some very significant advantages.

A particular advantage, in a sustainability sense, that Dr Foskey raises is the fact that we do not have a large secondary or manufacturing industry. Our environment is essentially clear. It is because of the nature of our industry and the historical development of the ACT that we have the cleanest air of any major metropolitan zone within Australia. We have a range of natural advantages. But we also have some disadvantages. The sprawl that we have inherited, a city of 300,000 covering the area that it does, is one of the indicators of unsustainability in the way in which the city has been planned and grown. It has led, of course, to a set of infrastructure, particularly in respect of roads, that really does impact on the degree to which we are sustainable and the degree to which we have an ecological footprint that is far larger than is helpful for us or for the environment generally.

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