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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 236..


Paragraph (7) agreed to.

Paragraph 8 agreed to.

Commonwealth land releases

MR HARGREAVES (5.15): I move.

That the Assembly notes with concern the:

(1) Federal Government's failure to co-operate with the ACT Government in releasing land at Majura for an ACT prison site;

(2) preference of the Deputy Prime Minister that the Commonwealth should offer surplus Defence land at Majura to Canberra airport; and

(3) failure of the Commonwealth to abide by its own guidelines for the disposal of excess property.

This motion is about a block of land to the east and north-east of Canberra airport and procrastination of the federal government which has forced the Chief Minister to find an alternative site for a prison for the ACT. There is general community acceptance that a prison is needed in the ACT, but there is difficulty with where it should go. The Chief Minister, quite rightly, is fed up with the procrastination that the federal government has brought to bear on this issue and has announced a second-choice site.

Mr Speaker, it is my understanding that well before June last year the ACT government contacted the federal government, through the appropriate agencies, to work out whether it would sell the block of land. Before going down that track, I should say that among the criteria for siting a prison of this size are that it should be 20 minutes from court, reasonably close to industrial areas and on an established transport route.

The site just beyond the airport was ideal. It was also close to appropriate infrastructure, so the costs would have been reduced. The trouble was that it was Defence land. The federal government did not really need it because it had sold the RAAF base. It is my understanding that it sold the RAAF base to the people that own the airport. I do not know the name of the entity that the sale went through-the company structure looks like a map of the Cayman Islands-and I do not really care, but the RAAF base eventually will be wound back and all of that land on the other side would have absolutely no effect on the operations of the RAAF.

As Defence had said that they did not really need the land, we thought that it would be a good place to put the prison. My preferred site as shadow corrections minister was one to the north of the airport. However, a portion of the block would have been under the flight path, even though the buildings themselves would not have been, and it was going to be an expensive proposition to bring the infrastructure in from the road.

A couple of years ago I realised that this site might be a good one and raised it with my colleagues. I thought that it had all of the advantages. But I had not worked out that the


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