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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1723..


MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

As I said, rather than withdraw this bill from the notice paper, its need having passed, I thought it important to bring it out into the open, to have the debate, and to find out the direction for the future. I think it is important that that happens, and I thank members.

Question resolved in the negative.

MR SPEAKER: I know it is not normal for the Speaker to editorialise, but may I just comment that I thought that was a very thoughtful, reasoned, and civil debate on this matter. It is a pity that people outside cannot always be privy to things of this nature. I think the matters that have been raised are very important in terms of the parliamentary aspects. I will be talking to the Clerk to see whether the Administration and Procedure Committee should examine some of the matters that have been raised. Mr Stanhope, as Leader of the Opposition, raised some good points on this, as did the Deputy Speaker, so we may pursue that, Mr Rugendyke. Thank you, members.

Watson-review of Territory Plan

MR CORBELL (12.12): I move:

That, pursuant to subsection 37 (2) of the Land (Planning and Environment) Act 1991, the Legislative Assembly recommend to the Executive that the ACT Planning Authority be directed to review the Territory Plan as it relates to Block 1, Section 72 and Block 1, Section 80, Watson, so as to not permit residential development and to revise the land use policy to urban open space.

I am very pleased to be moving this motion today. The area of north Watson bounded by Stirling Avenue Reserve, Antill Street, and Northbourne Avenue has been proposed for residential development since the early 1990s, and the area is designated on the Territory Plan for residential land use. This proposal occurred following an inquiry of the planning committee of the Assembly at that time and has been the subject of considerable controversy ever since.

This motion is intended to give the Assembly the opportunity to review and, indeed, change decisions previously taken in this place. The question has to be asked by all members: why is it appropriate to change the land use policy for north Watson? The Labor Party has come to the view-and I have also come personally to the view-that the area of north Watson is of significant environmental value and that this warrants its removal from the residential land use policy and its inclusion at the very least as an area of urban open space.

The north Watson area is an area of yellow box/Blakely's red gum grassy woodland, although it has a degraded understorey-that is, a degraded grassland element. This type of woodland is highly endangered. I will give you some background. This woodland site is approximately 14 hectares. The yellow box/red gum grassy woodland ecosystem is an endangered ecological community in the ACT, but this site is not included on the government's listing, because of its degraded understorey.

However, only 5.2 per cent of the total pre-European settlement distribution of this woodland type remains in the ACT and the southern New South Wales region and, across the region, only 5 per cent of this 5.2 per cent is reserved. That is an extremely


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