MS LAWDER(Brindabella) (6.12): This budget builds towards the government's 90 per cent renewal energy target. This target is increasing costs for Canberra's families while having a negligible effect on the ACT environment. Despite the Chief Minister's earlier remarks, the Canberra Liberals do and always have supported environmental initiatives. I will take a few moments to remind members of that today. The Canberra Liberals introduced many initiatives first into this Assembly. I am sure some of you will recall that a Liberal government introduced the ACT's first minister for the environment in the early 1990s. It was then also a local Liberal government in 1997 that introduced the first greenhouse reduction targets for any jurisdiction in Australia.
We support environmental initiatives, but, at the same time, we also consider the cost impact on families. We must always keep in mind in this place that the decisions we make, whether based on ideological grounds or scientific research or both, have a huge impact on the everyday lives of Canberrans. It is irresponsible for us to support any initiative at any cost, no matter the portfolio. We will not support any initiative blindfolded without an understanding of the costs or ramifications.
r Corbell has made it clear time and time again that his environmental plans will increase prices for Canberrans. When we stop to think about it, that is happening right across the board. The renewable energy targets will increase costs, and there are increases in rates and child care. But they keep saying it is not a huge amount, just a cup of coffee. This government thinks it is okay for increases in parking and transport costs. Let us just add a bit more for the environment portfolio in this budget and the budgets to come. While alone, each of these costs do not seem very much, they add up, and we have to remember that families are already struggling. Each of these increases will make their lives harder. Add them together, along with everything else the government is increasing the cost of, and suddenly enormous pressure is added to Canberra families.
We continue to move towards Mr Corbell's 90 per cent renewable targets at a cost to families, and we continue to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars on items they see as a priority, like a contraceptive pill for kangaroos. I am pleased the government has agreed to the estimates committee recommendation 77 asking for a strategy and accountability indicators for water quality to be developed for next year's budget. That is a good thing.
Ultimately, I cannot help but come back to the overall management of environmental and conservation issues. This area will always be a bit ad hoc and disjointed as long as it is spread across different agencies, as we have covered earlier today. Yet the Chief Minister dodged the issues and provided us with no reason as to why this has not occurred so far. I will say it again—I am not sure why the Chief Minister seems to think this is a non-issue. This structural change would have an impact on everything we do in the ACT relating to the environment.
The Chief Minister said she is aware of the commitments made in the parliamentary agreement and that members will be updated soon. I am not quite sure exactly what that means. The Chief Minister also said that when she is convinced that it will improve service to the community, that it will improve protection of the environment and that the systems in place that support that transfer will deliver an outcome for the staff and for the executive who have been given the responsibility by the people of Canberra to manage these matters, that is when the decision will be taken. We have all been agreeing on it for nearly two years, but apparently the Chief Minister is saying she is not convinced it is a good idea yet. She is not convinced that a single nature conservation agency will improve protection of the environment, despite the recommendation in the estimates report.
The Chief Minister said that she has been doing some of the work. I am not sure what is worse—promising to do something and not, or admitting that ministerial egos might be halting her action. The rest of the environment funding and programs really comes back to why this has not been done. Why are we not looking for efficiencies within the organisation and why are we not trying to achieve better integration of biodiversity policy, planning, research and management? It is an important priority for the environment in the ACT. Everything else that comes from this area could be done more efficiently and effectively. I am looking forward to waiting a few more months to be told it is still under consideration by the government.