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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1491..


MR BARR (continuing):

assessing each major project on an ad hoc basis. Dr Foskey appears to be suggesting that we repeat all the statutory processes that we have, that we do them informally through the Assembly before we follow the statutory requirements and, in so doing, that we duplicate every step along the way. I do not think any reasonable person would consider this good public policy.

Finally, in relation to community consultation, if Dr Foskey is referring here to the development application, which I believe is the basis of her notice of motion, this is ActewAGL's responsibility. ACTPLA follows the requirements of the legislation. Given that there has been no need for a territory plan variation, the first opportunity that the planning agency has had to inform the public of the proposal is when it received the application.

I remind the Assembly that we have planning laws that we expect everyone to abide by. Given that this proposal is following the laws that we have established, then it would be wrong of us to seek to intervene inappropriately in today's processes. It is on that basis that I have moved my amendment to the motion that the assessment of the proposed development of ActewAGL's gas-fired power station is carried out in accordance with all statutory requirements; is undertaken in consultation with the Canberra community; that it abides by all relevant environmental rules and standards and that the Assembly acknowledges that the public inspection period for the preliminary assessment has been extended until 27 May.

I do note that ActewAGL has demonstrated its commitment to moving away from traditional coal-fired power stations through this proposal. I also acknowledge the point made by Dr Foskey that gas is better than coal, but perhaps not as good as some of the renewables. I think there are a range of technical reasons why ActewAGL has come forward with a gas proposal here in terms of base load generation that I do not believe are possible, but they are not under a renewable source at this point. That said, I would welcome ActewAGL's further consideration of the possibility of being able to combine renewables. Given the available roof space that this proposed data centre would have, I think that would be a sensible step for further examination.

I think that, given the willingness that ActewAGL and their partners have indicated in this process, they will consider all of those suggestions. It is an important part of this debate that we will have in the weeks and months ahead that ideas like that come forward. So I welcome Dr Foskey's contribution. I just think that in some of the other aspects of the motion that she has put forward she is off the mark. It is important that we let the statutory processes complete themselves and that we let our independent statutory planning authority do the work that we have charged it to do. There is ample opportunity now for further public contribution to this issue.

In closing I need to indicate that this is a very important project for the territory. As I said last week in comments to the ABC and other media outlets, we should not try and shut this project down and shut this debate down because we do not happen to like certain aspects of it. It is important for there to be a genuine consideration of this project. It is so important that the processes are allowed to continue, and I particularly welcome the comments of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this morning that he believes and the Liberal opposition believes this project has considerable merit for the territory.


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