Page 1160 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 24 March 2009

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Climate Change, Environment and Water—Standing Committee—Report 1—Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2007-2008, dated 20 March 2009, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

MS HUNTER: I have tabled today the first report for the Seventh Assembly of the Standing Committee on Climate Change, Environment and Water. It is our report on these ACT government 2007-08 annual and financial reports and parts thereof which the Assembly referred to the committee for inquiry and report. Many of the committee’s recommendations deal with opportunities for achieving better sustainability outcomes in the territory, the most significant of which I will mention. Our recommendations also aim to strengthen territory governance through better respect for the Assembly’s accountability role and function.

I am also pleased to report to the Assembly that this committee is working well in a collegial and professional manner and that members shared a consensus on the findings of our inquiry.

The committee considered the annual report of the office of the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment for 2007-08 and the report of the Environment Protection Authority. We also considered those parts of the annual report lodged for the Department of Territory and Municipal Services that dealt with sustainability and environmental policy coordination and sustainability programs and projects.

One of the most significant issues addressed in the report is the operation of the Tree Protection Act and matters which should have been but were not disclosed in the department’s annual report. The committee asked to be provided with the legal advice given to the department last year about the expiry of transitional provisions in the act. The committee is also concerned that a range of agencies dealing with the Tree Protection Act seem to be unaware of the influence that the territory’s Human Rights Act might have on the interpretation of the act. The committee recommends that the Auditor-General review the administration by the Department of Territory and Municipal Services of the Tree Protection Act.

On other matters of territory governance and the role of this Assembly and Assembly committees, the committee recommends that the long overdue government response to the report of a former Assembly committee on the proposed nomination of the ACT as a UNESCO biosphere reserve be tabled in May this year. This would be before the stakeholder forum that the committee proposes to be held on World Environment Day—5 June—and would allow further discussion on the proposed nomination.

On public sector sustainability, the committee considered the commonwealth government agency environmental network and recommends that an ACT government official seek to attend meetings of that network as an observer. The commonwealth Auditor-General’s recent report on green office procurement and

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