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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1724..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

It was never envisaged that, after all other approvals, after the satisfactory completion of the preliminary assessment, after all of the environmental assessments that are part and parcel of a preliminary assessment process and final approvals are given to proceed, the construction of the road should falter or halt or be stopped almost indefinitely as a result of an appeal against the routine issuing of a certificate by the conservator in the circumstances in which it was issued in this case.

I do not believe and I do not imagine that when those provisions were included in the Nature Conservation Act it was ever imagined that they could be used after the successful completion of a preliminary assessment, as a way of frustrating a government's intention to proceed with a major piece of infrastructure that has been developed for the entire community-but most essentially in this case for the people of Gungahlin, to ensure that they have exactly the same access to the life of the community and the same capacity to participate in society as have other Canberrans.

It seems to me to be a simple matter of equity, a simple matter of social justice, a simple matter of ensuring that all Canberrans have an equal capacity to participate in the life of the community of Canberra. It was never, ever intended that those major projects designed to produce those results for the community could be frustrated in this way.

I think there are other examples. I think there are moot examples, for instance, in relation particularly to a hypothetical circumstance such as that we are considering in relation to Gungahlin Drive. It is essentially a hypothetical; it is a licence issued on the off-chance, in the hypothetical circumstance, that an animal may be killed. None has been identified that will be killed. It is not a licence to go and say there is an animal in a tree or on a piece of the ground which will be killed as a result of the roadworks that are being undertaken. A licence has been issued on the off-chance-a purely hypothetical possibility-that there may be such an animal in a position where it will be killed.

I have asked for some further legal advice on this, but I believe one can make an analogous case in relation, for instance, to the maintenance of road verges. We provide and hire contractors to mow road verges and parks. It is undoubtedly the case that when a contractor on a tractor or with a huge mower mows road verges and mows public parks and places they will from time to time kill native animals. It is unavoidable. We all know that a native animal, as defined, must from time to time be killed as a consequence or as an incident of the mowing of road verges.

I cannot believe it was seriously imagined or considered at the time of the introduction and passage of this legislation that every time we issue a contract to mow road verges it is proposed that the tractor driver be issued with a licence to kill the lizards et cetera that they might run over as they are mowing the grass. I cannot imagine that was envisaged and I believe we need to address those major deficiencies in this legislation. That is all the government are seeking to do. We are seeking to arrive at a situation where, once all other approval processes have been completed, a major project-or any project indeed, or any activity of government-cannot be thwarted, our capacity to mow the grass cannot be thwarted, on the basis of whether or not the particular contractor received an appropriate licence in relation to that particular activity.


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