Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1540..
MS MacDONALD (continuing):
identify an area within a 25-kilometre radius and letterbox every house in that area. But I think there is an imperative on ActewAGL to have the information ready, in easily understandable form, for the community so that they can understand it. However, we should allow the proper processes to occur and not get carried away by claims that could prove to be quite baseless.
There is no doubt that this proposal is undergoing a full and thorough planning assessment. This means the motion really is superfluous when it is evident that the proposed gas-fired generator cannot proceed without development approval from the ACT Planning and Land Authority, which will require relevant environmental, health and planning clearances to be obtained beforehand. Simply put, the project will not proceed to development if it does not meet and satisfy certain requirements, including the relevant noise, environmental and visual amenity tests.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.56): Mr Speaker, I would like to speak to the amendments and I assume that in so doing I will be closing the debate. It is a stimulating debate and I am sure there is a lot more that could be said. It is very good that we are having this debate, because the issue is fresh and we are talking about it at a time when we can make a difference.
I want to address the amendments and respond to some of the issues that were raised. I thank every member who has spoken for the issues that they have raised, because they all lead to a much more robust debate. I am sure that the citizens of Macarthur and Fadden are very pleased that we are having this debate, because they were certainly concerned that the thing might be home and hosed before it really got out onto the public agenda.
I am also pleased that the public inspection period of the preliminary assessment at least has been extended until 27 May. It was certainly concerning that the earlier period, which I believe was the statutory three weeks, the required three weeks, crept up on people and was almost over before many of the local citizens realised that they even had the opportunity to comment. I think that says it all, really, about my concern about statutory requirements. Okay, by the letter of the law the government and ACTPLA and whoever is involved in fulfilling the statutory requirements have a legal basis for their actions. But, if you are really talking about community engagement, it just is not adequate. The bigger the project, the more this is the case, and I believe there should be a consideration of that. But we should realise that it is not just the size of projects that concerns people.
I will go through the two amendments to the motion, beginning with Mr Barr's amendment, the first paragraph of which calls on the ACT government to ensure that the assessment of the proposed development of ActewAGL's gas-fired power station "is carried out in accordance with all statutory requirements". Indeed, it is, but, as I have indicated in my speech this morning and reiterated just now, statutory requirements do not necessarily lead to the complete community engagement that is certainly due to a project like this and, I believe, always due. Statutory requirements may not require all the information to be available or they may require it to be available but not necessarily accessible. My concern is that the statutory requirements are too minimal in this case.