Page 2334 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 16 June 2009

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I am pleased to table the government’s response to the ACT state of the environment report 2007-08 pursuant to section 19(3)(b) of the Commissioner for the Environment Act 1993. The government accepts in principle all of the commissioner’s recommendations. The government has responded in detail to each of the commissioner’s recommendations across the areas of climate and greenhouse, air quality, biodiversity, catchment quality, resource use and community wellbeing. The government’s response is comprehensive and demonstrates a sincere and earnest commitment to make a difference, to protect and conserve the ACT’s environment and move to a more sustainable footing.

In terms of the commissioner’s specific recommendations, the government is already making good progress with implementation. In relation to climate and greenhouse, the government recently announced that it established a table of zero net greenhouse gas emissions for Canberra and that legislated interim targets will be determined following the conclusion of the Assembly’s inquiry into greenhouse gas reduction targets. The introduction of the feed-in tariff to encourage renewable energy generation has also been a positive step forward in progressing the government’s climate change agenda.

In relation to biodiversity, the government recently opened the 484 hectare Mulligans Flat woodland sanctuary, protected by 11.5 kilometres of predator-proof fencing at a cost of $1.3 million. Whilst the sanctuary is open to the public to enjoy, it will also be the subject of long-term research on how the sanctuary and the rest of the Goorooyarroo and Mulligans Flat nature reserves are managed to improve their condition.

The Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment referred in her report to the need to develop a resilient Canberra and region where issues such as transport, housing and human impacts on our ecosystems are effectively managed in a changing climate. The government is conscious of the need to address these interrelated challenges responsibly in a setting that encourages measured economic growth whilst promoting change to more sustainable behaviours.

The government is pleased that the commissioner has affirmed the strategic directions the government is taking in a range of areas, including climate change, housing, education, Indigenous health and wellbeing, nature conservation and sustainable transport. The commissioner did, however, highlight a number of challenges and notably observed:

We are consuming natural resources at an unsustainable rate and, while efforts are being made to address this, more needs to be done as a matter of urgency, particularly given the correlation between consumption of resources and climate change.

The government recognises this need and is leading by example. We established the Department of the Environment and Climate Change, Energy and Water in November of last year to give specific priority to the critical issues of climate change, environment protection, sustainability, water security and energy efficiency. The

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