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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 231..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

education have a direct and extremely beneficial impact on the services and programs provided in schools.

I do not yet know in specific terms where all that money is going to be spent. What I do know is that this government's commitment is absolute and the money will be spent on improving services for the education system in the ACT-improving them where it counts in assisting the education of young people in the ACT, not on simply getting them to school.

Proposed charcoal plant

MS TUCKER: My question is directed to the Chief Minister and is in relation to his responsibility for intergovernmental relations. Chief Minister, you will be aware of a proposal to build a charcoal plant near Mogo on the South Coast that would consume some 200,000 tonnes of southern forest every year. This plan is an essential component of an integrated silicon metals project, which also includes a quartz mine located near Cowra and a silicon smelter plant near Lithgow.

Around 30,000 tonnes of charcoal will be produced per annum, which will be transported by about 10 semitrailers per day from the plant, over the Clyde Mountain and through Braidwood and Taralga to join the Hume Highway at Goulburn.

An environmental impact statement on the plant was released in November, and the New South Wales government has called for submissions before 16 January.

Chief Minister, given the ACT's integral part in the Australian Capital Region and the interest of many Canberrans in the South Coast through owning property there or using the area for recreational activity, do you intend to put in a submission on this plan?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you for the question, Ms Tucker. Through the newspapers, I have followed with great interest the debate on the proposed charcoal plant in Mogo. I take the point you make about some of the potential environmental impacts. I have not seen for myself the environmental impact statement you refer to. I am very aware of the debate and the issues, and I am aware of the attitude of the New South Wales government. There is some debate about the extent to which the particular industry that has proposed to develop, enhance and facilitate through the charcoal plant will produce some good outcomes, including some significant environmental outcomes in relation to the production of silicon.

I am aware of the argument about the amount of wood that would be consumed. I understand there is some dispute about the nature of the forestry material that would be utilised in the plant. I am not quite sure whether the statement you make in relation to the potential impact of the charcoal factory on the southern forests is necessarily as great as has been suggested by some-in relation to the forest product that would be used.

Interestingly, I did have a brief discussion at the just-completed regional leaders forum meeting with the shire clerk of the Eurabodella Shire Council. He told me that his council is very determined to see the charcoal plant located within the shire, entirely as a response to the potential employment opportunities. I am aware that there are other


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