The Conservation Council took several environmental issues with the 2015-16 ACT Budget to the Estimates Committee which, in turn, made recommendations and the Government has now responded.
The Committee was quite direct on weeds: “The Committee recommends that the ACT Government restore the funding for weeds management to previous levels.” The previous level was just over $2 million. The Government only ‘noted’ the recommendation, stating that funding stood at $1.5 million and argued that the base level has increased to $1.2 million (they also counted $300,000 for Lower Cotter work which is separate) and funding for specific projects that would be considered in future Budgets.
Waste to energy
We expressed concern that the Government has committed $2.8 million to develop a business case for a waste to energy facility without consultation and without including waste reduction alternatives. The Committee produced a good recommendation: “that the ACT Government ensure a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, as well as community consultation, to determine the best investment and environmental option for waste to energy initiatives.”
The Government said it agreed but does not recognise waste reduction, saying: “The feasibility study will investigate and advise Government on options to best achieve a sustainable and cost-effective waste management system in the ACT. The project is taking a technology-neutral approach and will involve consultation with key stakeholders.” The ACT needs to reduce our waste, yet the Government is just pushing ahead with technocratic plans to burn it.
Nature Conservation Agency
Surprisingly, the Government did not support its own policy when the Committee recommended it “consider establishing a single nature conservation agency, in line with previous announcements and as recommended by the Select Committee on Estimates 2014-2015.”
The Government could only ‘note’ the recommendation even though a single conservation agency is part of the Parliamentary Agreement on which the Government was formed! As former Commissioner for the Environment Joe Baker once said: ‘Noted’ is a public servant’s way of saying we won’t do anything about it.