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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 2092..

MR SPEAKER: Do you know that you are closing the debate?

Mrs Dunne: No, I am not, I am speaking in a cognate debate on Mr Wood's Gungahlin Drive Extension Authorisation Bill.

MR SPEAKER: You are speaking to the Projects of Territorial Significance Bill and you will be closing the debate on it. You are speaking to both of the bills, but you will be closing the debate on that bill.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (12.56 am): Mr Speaker, the Liberal Party's Projects of Territorial Significance Bill is a very wide-ranging piece of legislation. Indeed, it would set an unprecedented level of streamlining and fast-tracking of development projects in the ACT. There are a number of flaws with this bill that need to be addressed in the debate tonight.

The first of these, of course, is that the bill, if enacted, would allow the Chief Minister of the day to determine a particular project to be a project of territorial significance. That determination would then be subject to disallowance in the Assembly. That is where the first problem with the bill comes about. For a bill that claims to be asserting the need to produce and move forward with highly significant projects, it subjects the declaration to a period in this place which is quite the contrary to the need to progress a project in a timely way.

The project declaration has to be sat in this Assembly for the statutory period and that, of necessity, would slow down the period before there can be any certainty as to whether the project actually does have that territorial significance and is accepted as such by the Assembly. So there is a contradiction, first and foremost, in relation to this legislation. Secondly, and I think of much greater concern to the government, the Projects of Territorial Significance Bill says that we accept not only that the Gungahlin Drive extension project is important and should be expedited, but also that any other project which the Chief Minister deems to be worthy and which is accepted by the Assembly should be treated in the same fashion. That presupposes a debate about the worthiness of other projects.

The government's view is that we are dealing with what we know, not with things that may or may not happen in the future. We know that a majority of members in this place and successive assemblies have agreed to the establishment of the Gungahlin Drive extension, to fund the project and to allow the project to proceed. We know that Assembly committees have, by majorities, accepted the need for this important piece of public infrastructure. We know that successive governments have supported the need for this piece of public infrastructure.

So there is a very clear basis on which the government can come to this Assembly and say that this project should be expedited. But there is no clear argument for the Assembly to accept the proposition in the Liberal Party's bill that other projects should have the capacity to have the same expeditious process. Our view is that it should be done in the context of the particular project. That is why we have brought forward project-specific legislation.

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