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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 12 Hansard (28 October) . .

Page.. 3664..

wanting their feedback before we finalise it. The community and expert reference group is also ramping up its activities to engage with the community, particularly in light of this new information.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank very much Mr Kefford and his officials, and also the commonwealth officials, particularly the office of Minister Abetz, for working with us on this. The ACT officials have really responded very quickly to the government's request to prioritise this; they have done an exceptional job, and I would like to thank them very much today.

MADAM SPEAKER: Ms Berry, a supplementary question.

MS BERRY: Chief Minister, do you have an early estimate of the impact this agreement will have on the ACT budget?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Berry for the question. We have known that a permanent solution to the Mr Fluffy legacy would bring with it a major cost, a cost that we would have to incur if we were to do the right thing. The task force report clearly states, underpinned by very rigorous evidence and the latest knowledge available to the experts in Australia and indeed internationally today, that there is no safe way of ignoring this problem; that there is no safe way of remediating these homes—we have tried that; it did not work—and that we needed a permanent and lasting solution.

With that decision came an acknowledgement that there would be significant costs. At the moment, our best estimate is that these costs will be in the order of $300 million, but that is also based on a lot of assumptions and variables that can change. We are, under the guidance of the Treasurer, Treasury and officials from the commonwealth, looking to minimise the net cost to taxpayers at the end of the day. But in saying that, and I have said it today in answers to questions, there are going to be some very difficult issues that we are going to have to deal with. That is going to be about rezoning some of the land. It is going to be about trying to recoup the maximum amount available through the sale of land in highly valuable blocks. And it is, I think, going to cause quite a lot of concern up-front. We need to acknowledge that, but we also have to be very mindful that, whilst we are working very hard to support the Mr Fluffy home owners, we also have a broader responsibility to ACT taxpayers to make sure that we are minimising the costs, particularly in light of the fact that the commonwealth are not going to accept or take on any responsibility for any of the net costs of the program.

Transport—light rail

MR COE: My question is for the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, I refer to your comments reported on 20 October regarding the ACT falling to second lowest in Commsec's state of the states report. You stated:

If there is anything that will create jobs at this time it's projects like ... the light rail project.

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