Page 3780 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 27 August 2008

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Members: Hear, hear!

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.50): I thought I was at the wrong MPI for a minute. I would like to remind Mr Gentleman of his own words:

The importance of working together to maintain a sustainable environment for the ACT.

I thought he would get up and talk about the government’s consultation policy, the guidelines and how they go about consulting. I thought he would talk about the successful partnership that the government had with business and community and other groups. I thought that he might mention when they spoke to people. But all we had—as we have so often had from this government—was this litany of things that “we have done and therefore they must be good”.

It is a shame. If we truly are to protect the environment and have a sustainable environment for the ACT into the future, the only way it can be achieved is by working together. Government can enforce legislation. It can pass legislation; it can enforce legislation. But if people are not joined together with the government, the community and the various sectors to make sure that it works, it will never achieve the potential that it is truly designed for.

Initially, I thought I had come to a water debate, because all we did was speak about the water act 2007. But the reality is this: the former Liberal government, in 1998, put in place the water legislation that the government modified last year. I was very pleased to be the minister to bring it into this place, after lots of consultation with the community. During estimates, it was pleasing to hear the head of Actew, Mr Costello, say that the environmental flow guidelines that we had put in place were excellent; that they were working; and that, 10 years after they were put in place, they still provided a great basis for the future.

I thought that Mr Gentleman might talk about no waste by 2010, which is something that this community embraced. No waste by 2010 was working because the community wanted to be part of it. In the Asian meltdown in the late 1990s, an article in the Canberra Times said that some of the paper that had been collected for recycling may have to be dumped into the tip because the market for it had collapsed. It was not true, but the story went out. People in the community were outraged. They saw that they had a role to play, and they wanted to play that role to ensure that their kids—and their kids, and their kids after them—had a future, had an environment, had a place to live that truly was the bush capital. Instead of no waste by 2010, what we have had from this lot is no work by 2010. For the last seven years, the no waste program has been stagnant.

This territory used to lead the world in some areas of environmental best practice, whether it be greenhouse gas reduction or whether it be waste minimisation. Initiatives out of the former Liberal ACT government—with the community, in consultation with the community, at the suggestion of the community—helped change the world. When you have cities as diverse as Singapore and Mexico City, countries as diverse as the Cook Islands and South Africa, and the Welsh no waste by 2010 community recycling association coming to Canberra to find out how we had done it as a community, you know that you have made a difference.

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