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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1510..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

not communicate with you? Is that right? You are talking about your office when you say that "we"had set it up?

MS GALLAGHER: The government, yes.

Land conservation

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Planning, Mr Corbell. Minister, can you advise the Assembly what have been the ramifications for the government and the people of the territory of the decision to transfer potential residential land in east Gungahlin to the Gooroo nature park?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. It allows me to outline to the Assembly the full range of considerations that the government has had to take into account in making the very significant decision to incorporate as part of the Canberra nature park a total of over 1000 hectares of an area previously designated as residential. This is part of the government's need to take a balanced approach to managing land that has conservation value but which has previously been identified for residential use. It is a difficult balance and one on which there is no absolutely right or wrong answer. It is a matter for judgement. Three hundred hectares of previously identified residential land, identified as such in the territory plan and identified as part of the 20-year land release sequence for Gungahlin, has been conserved as part of the Gooroo nature reserve.

The implications for the territory include the preservation of that land for the duration because of its environmental value. But, equally, there is a range of other impacts about which members would be interested to know. For example, the land was valued, for residential purposes, at over $300 million, which constitutes a very significant amount of revenue and associated land tax forgone by the territory, most deliberately, because we recognise the ecological value of the land. It would have provided for approximately 4500 additional dwellings. That is about two years' worth of land supply in the territory. But the government has taken the decision that it is appropriate that this land be conserved because of its ecological value and its contribution to the maintenance of ecosystems.

Without a doubt, the government is striking this very important balance. When members contribute in this debate they need to be conscious of the range of factors that the government takes account of. It is incumbent on all of us to communicate that in these debates. These are not minor concessions by the government or minor additions to contributing to the maintenance of the ecological framework of these endangered ecosystems in the ACT. These are major decisions which not only provide a significant ecological benefit to the community but also come at a significant cost to the community by way of revenue forgone-$300 million-and yield forgone-4500 dwellings. It is a very significant change.

If you look at other sites, this can only be reinforced. For example, the government has identified other land, in north Watson, south Bruce and east O'Malley, and conserved a further 347 hectares of land previously considered to be urban capable. The value of this land is $347 million dollars. It means the loss of approximately 5205 dwelling sites. In total, if you look at those two areas alone, you are looking at an area representing potentially, maybe 10 or so years of land supply in the ACT and worth close to $1 billion

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