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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 September 2019) . . Page.. 3849 ..

MR WALL: Minister, why was there at least a 139 per cent increase in the number of patients waiting over a day for admission?

MR RATTENBURY: Because a lot more people have presented needing care.

MS LAWDER: Minister, how many patients are expected to have to wait for a day or more for admission to the adult mental health unit during the rest of 2019?

MR RATTENBURY: We do not set out with an expectation of people needing to wait. It is the case where the hospital staff are working as hard as they can and providing the best possible care they can. But it does depend on how many people show up. As I alluded to in my earlier answer, we have seen a substantial number of people coming forward, above the rate in previous years. That has put some pressure on, which we are working to respond to at the moment.

Environment—planning strategy

MR GUPTA: My question is to the Minister for Planning and Land Management. Minister, how is the ACT government’s planning strategy protecting our natural environment?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Gupta for his interest in planning for the future of Canberra. The ACT’s planning strategy sets a vision for Canberra as a sustainable, competitive and equitable city that respects Canberra as a city in a landscape. Cities can choose to grow upwards or outwards. Canberra is surrounded by forests, hills and nature reserves. To grow outwards means destroying our natural landscape by bulldozing our forests.

This is why the planning strategy sets a target of 70 per cent for new development to be within our existing urban footprint. We want a sustainable city. It preserves our natural environment. It ensures that we can be more efficient with our transport, building along our light rail route and existing infrastructure instead of needing to bulldoze forests to put down new roads. In addition to protecting our trees and our landscape, a compact and efficient city means that more people can choose to walk or cycle to work.

The Leader of the Opposition was here last week talking about having more houses on residential-sized blocks. This would be an extremely dangerous move. And when Mr Parton says that when he looks out the window he sees plenty of land for development, what does he mean? Is he going to bulldoze Kowen Forest to our east or will he instead build over the sensitive ecology of the Murrumbidgee corridor? Or would the Leader of the Opposition prefer to build some houses on Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain, Mount Taylor, Mount Rogers, Red Hill or any of the other open spaces that make Canberra such a liveable city?

MR GUPTA: Minister, how does the planning strategy set a long-term vision for Canberra as a sustainable city?

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