Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 9 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 3220..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
reference. Doesn't go far enough. The community want an EIS". Mr Smyth said the same thing. Canberrans talking about the relocation of the power station said the same thing. Dr Foskey said the same thing.
Everybody—even those who attended those health impact assessment public meetings—the first public meeting and the second technical meeting—called for an EIS. They said a health impact assessment does not go far enough. The health impact assessment was a process I commissioned to respond to specific health concerns being raised with me as the Minister for Health. It was a very set criteria—the terms of reference were set.
Mr Pratt, are you interested in the answer? It is polite to listen to the answer that you have asked for. There were community concerns and the health impact assessment was set up to look at the health impacts. Subsequently to that, the independent planning process advised their minister that they thought a full environmental impact study should be done. That decision was taken. I guess events were overtaken by that decision. There was no need to have a non-statutory process continue looking specifically at health. I established the steering group to provide advice to me. I was no longer in charge of that process. The statutory process needed to continue.
I got an email from one of the members of the steering group congratulating us for having a full environmental impact statement done. She indicated to me—it was one of the co-authors of that article that you refer to—that she felt that that was a good way to respond to the community's concern. Other members of that committee have also confirmed to me that they feel a full EIS is the way forward.
I accept that Professor Capon is not comfortable with that decision. That is regrettable. I will be meeting with Professor Capon to talk through some of his concerns. The position of the government has been clear from the word go. There is an independent planning process underway. That process established that an EIS needed to be done. They referred that advice to their minister. The minister accepted it. That is now what is happening.
All the issues that the community were concerned about, including the health concerns, are now part of that work. They will all be looked at. I have given my assurance to Professor Capon about that. I have even given him an assurance that there will be a meeting between him and the people doing the EIS to hand over some of those particular areas of concern. As you learn, you find that there are decisions that you take that people do not agree with. Professor Capon has not agreed with my decision in this instance. I no longer needed a steering group to report to me because I am no longer in charge of that process. The EIS process is underway.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Pratt?
MR PRATT: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, how is the full HIA-EIS process improved by not having these independent experts involved?
MS GALLAGHER: This is something that obviously the opposition cannot understand. It is very clear, if you have taken the time to read the Health Impact