Page 2114 - Week 06 - Thursday, 7 May 2009

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development of the most important policy document for any government calls into question the very basis of this budget and calls into question the capacity of this Treasurer to deliver in this critical portfolio.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.06): I welcome this opportunity to speak to the government’s budget presented in the chamber on Tuesday, to acknowledge a number of welcome initiatives and to discuss some areas of concern where the Greens consider that the government has not gone far enough and where program funding will need to be monitored closely to ensure that it meets policy objectives.

Firstly, I would like to note that there has been genuine engagement by the government with the issues that are raised by the Greens in the ALP-Greens parliamentary agreement, and initiatives that were in the agreement have been funded through this budget. In particular, as a member for Molonglo, I would like to say how much I welcome the funding of a new library for the inner south. The library will become an important community asset, one that we have already seen warmly welcomed by residents of the area.

On matters relating to the environment, there is no doubt that having four Greens in the Assembly has at least given notice to the government that they should lift their game on environment issues. While the Greens welcome many of the budget measures that have been announced this week, I would like to state here and now though that there is still a long way to go. On environment spending, the government will need to do more work next time around, especially in light of outcomes from the climate change inquiry and the development of an energy policy in the ACT.

In relation to specific measures this time around, the Greens welcome the extra allocation of funds for the urban wetlands project to build two further stormwater ponds. Building a network of urban wetlands will assist us to capture and use stormwater for community purposes, but also create natural waterways that build the ambience of our city—far better than concrete drains. The money allocated by the government will kick this project along in locations around Canberra, and we look forward to that happening quickly.

Some members may already have seen the work along Sullivans Creek which has been undertaken with a combination of community effort in the early years, and then with federal and ACT government funding. This project has resulted in an improvement in how the area looks while also restoring health to the creek and delivering irrigation water for local sporting fields. This sort of project—repairing landscapes, for example—is a small instance of what the Green “new deal” is all about. This kind of infrastructure spending delivers long-term benefits on a range of fronts: environmental, social and economic.

This brings me to the government’s switch your thinking program and the sizeable allocation of $19 million over four years to deliver on water and energy efficiency in Canberrans’ homes. The Greens are very keen to see this program work effectively, and I have spent some time conveying to the minister what our vision is for how this could work. It comes down to this: we need to do more than simply offer rebates. Rebates are a great start, an ideal for committed people with a degree of expertise or

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