Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 16 February 2017) . . Page.. 614 ..
on that front. In fact, the report confirms that many of the improvements that are already underway are on the right track.
It is important to understand, however, that this audit did focus mainly on administrative practices. While these administrative practices are important, safety outcomes are WorkSafe’s key focus, and they will always be the priority.
As members may be aware, the government is preparing a full response that will address all the recommendations outlined in the report, but the community can retain a high level of confidence about the safety of the program and WorkSafe’s role in the regulation of these activities. Experienced inspectors are on these sites every day and attendance is based on a risk-based approach.
Environmental Defenders Office—funding
MS ORR: My question is to the Attorney-General. Minister, what has the ACT government done to respond to the commonwealth’s decision to cut funding to the Environmental Defenders Office from 2014?
MR RAMSAY: I thank the member for her question and also for her clear interest in and the importance she places on the environment and planning. The ACT Labor government is certainly getting down to business supporting community legal centres. Support for legal assistance helps us to create a justice system that is accessible, transparent and timely.
The federal government cut fudging to the ACT Environmental Defenders Office in 2014. This cut threatened the ability of the EDO to provide advice and advocacy on the environment to the community. The $140,000 in funding that we announced for 2016-17 will keep the EDO’s doors open.
The EDO here in the ACT has an exemplary history. In fact, the ACT’s newest judge, His Honour David Mossop, once managed the EDO here, and early in his career he was a solicitor for the New South Wales EDO.
The EDO works in collaboration with Legal Aid ACT to offer legal assistance focused on the environment. A key function of the EDO is to provide advice to the government about how its laws impact on the environment. For example, the EDO made a submission to the commonwealth parliament’s 2014 inquiry into the development of northern Australia to promote a focus on ecologically sustainable development. The EDO has also made submissions on major reviews of the ACT’s environment protection legislation.
The EDO has services to address neighbourhood legal problems. For example, if someone has problems with a noisy neighbour, the EDO’s fact sheets are a fantastic starting point. For people who need representation for a tribunal or a court matter involving the environment, the EDO is well placed to support them as well.
MS ORR: Minister, are the cuts to the EDO related to the commonwealth’s decision to cut funding for other community legal centres in the ACT?