Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2010) . . Page.. 23 ..
In closing, let me say this: I stated in the Assembly last year that of course it would be the politically easy decision for the government to say yes to a realignment proposal. I recognise that some in the community will not be happy with the outcome I have announced this morning. But from time to time governments, and indeed crossbenchers, are required to make difficult decisions. This is one of those occasions.
Ms LE COUTEUR (Molonglo), by leave: I will very briefly respond to this, given that there will be a further opportunity to speak on the subject later today in the discussion of the matter of public importance.
The Greens are very pleased that Mr Barr has chosen to make a statement to the Assembly about this matter. The Assembly did make a determination late last year, and from an accountability point of view it is very important that executive government reports to the Assembly on the progress of any motions the Assembly passes, particularly in a case like this, where the executive government is choosing not to do what the Assembly wished.
I will very briefly go through why we have reluctantly come to the position that we understand—“support” may be too strong a word—why the government is making the decision it is making.
When we supported the motion in November, we thought that realigning the road could not cost a lot of money. The road, after all, had not been built, and the new road was going to be shorter. It did not occur to us for an instant that the realignment would cost the sort of money that Mr Barr is talking about, which I believe is in the order of $5 million to $6 million.
Mr Barr has already gone through some of the issues that make the road alignment more expensive than it would appear at the onset; I will not go over that again. I understand that the costings at this stage are still not totally detailed, but I do understand some of the dilemmas of ACTPLA and the government dilemmas here. I understand that it will cost probably $800,000 to $1 million to do enough work to know precisely, absolutely, what the cost of redoing the road is. That is about the sort of money that, when we started this debate, I thought it should cost to do the whole realignment. I can understand the government’s reluctance to spend that money on an investigation to find out how much more money it has got to spend.
The $5 million estimate includes, as Mr Barr said, the issues of the bridge and the replacement of the soil. While I agree that it is possible that the $5 million could possibly be less, it is also possible that it could be more. I believe there is a reasonable amount of contingency in there, but given the recent history of projects like this—such as the Cotter Dam: it is slightly bigger, but we started off with $140 million and I think we are up to $365 million—it is hard for us to say that putting a contingency amount in is not reasonable.
One of the other concerns about the proposed rerouting which we did not appreciate at the time was that the eastern alignment would trigger an EIS. I am sure you would appreciate that the Greens in general do not wish to advocate things that would trigger an EIS, because basically the results of an EIS are always just about how to mitigate