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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2792 ..

If the government is to be accountable and transparent about its renewable energy program, it should have agreed with this recommendation and done the analysis as proposed by the Energy Supply Association of Australia using the same methodology as the ESAA so we could look at the future costs of the ACT’s renewable energy policy. It is another example of this government keeping things under wraps; increasing the fees and rates for everyday Canberrans but without providing the detailed analysis.

Moving on to the kangaroo fertility control trial, in a discussion in the estimates hearings it appears we are still unable to quantify the cost per kangaroo of the trial. From my reading and recollection, it is two to five years in the making of the trial. Again it would be good information for the public let alone members of the Assembly to know the cost per kangaroo for the fertility control trial.

I will touch on a couple of related matters not necessarily specific to these output classes but more generally. One of the things we discussed in detail that was raised by the Conservation Council was weeds management. When Conservation Council ACT region appeared before the committee it expressed concerns about the budget reduction to the weeds management program, especially in the absence of any scientific basis to support the reduction of funding. The Conservation Council indicated that previous funding levels enabled the ACT weeds strategy to be fully and stably implemented. The funding cuts in this budget will not allow for adequate weeds management in the coming financial years, setting the program back a decade by allowing controlled weeds to regrow and propagate.

Funding for weeds management is important. Insufficient funding will adversely affect biodiversity, agricultural areas and landscapes. The estimates committee was concerned to hear of the reduced funding for weeds management in the ACT, especially, as I said, in the absence of a scientific basis for the reduction. The estimates report has a recommendation about restoring the funding for weeds management, which the government noted but did not agree to.

Another one which is not specific to the environment portfolio but certainly has a connection to it is about divestment. Again, this was raised by the Conservation Council of the ACT. The comment from the executive director was that whilst they commended the ACT government for taking steps to combat climate change, they noted that the government should not be investing in fossil fuels which contribute to climate change. The Executive Director of the Conservation Council of the ACT encouraged the government to divest of fossil fuel investment to “align its climate change policy with its investment policy”. That is recommendation 61, and the government has agreed to that because it does not have a particular time frame associated with it.

In closing, I note the contribution of Mr Bob Neil, the former Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, who has retired. I thank him for his long and worthy service to the ACT government and the ACT population as a whole through his important work as the commissioner and before that in his other work. Thank you very much to Mr Bob Neil.

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