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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2021) . . Page.. 441 ..


I understand the logic behind waste proponents choosing Fyshwick as a place for waste processing, given the rail line. The decision to locate large-scale waste processing facilities in Hume would be much simpler and more obvious ones to proponents if we still had a working rail line passing close by. The line is right there. It runs all the way along the back of Hume, forming the ACT border. It is just a handful of kilometres between Hume and the current end of the line in Queanbeyan, and the line as far as Royalla was closed only in 2007 as a result of storm damage. It should surely be relatively simple and cost effective to restore that section to working order.

A closer look at the matter reveals competing interests and unexpected complexity. In August 2018, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a million-dollar feasibility study into reopening the Queanbeyan to Bombala railway line and extending it as far as Canberra airport in the north and Eden on the coast. Unfortunately, the study concluded last year that, at an estimated capital cost of $6.3 billion, the project was not economically viable.

However, not everyone agrees with that assessment. The Cooma and Monaro Progress Association commissioned an alternative examination and came up with a route that avoided the extensive tunnelling, which was the project’s largest expense. The CMPA’s costing was less than half of the New South Wales government’s, at $2.9 billion. With the federal government looking at an inland freight rail line between Sydney and Melbourne, a connecting line to Eden—to take advantage of its existing and potentially expanded deep-water port facilities—could change the economics of both the Canberra to Eden and the Sydney to Melbourne proposals.

The Greens would be keen to pursue discussions about this rail line with our interstate and federal colleagues, to see how much the shorter extensions of the line would cost and what the benefits could be.

Going back to the bill before us today, the Greens agree that we absolutely need to move forward on our ambitious vision for better waste treatment and creating a circular economy. A good step today is to support the Planning and Development Amendment Bill. This bill will help to clarify allowed and prohibited waste management activities, and will give territory residents, business owners and investors a clear pathway to a long-term solution that allows us all to plan with confidence. This Planning and Development Amendment Bill is an important step towards addressing the current situation, and the Greens will be supporting it today.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (10.38): I am very pleased to speak today to support the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2021. This legislation reinforces the clear direction for the management of waste in the ACT that is outlined in the ACT Waste Management Strategy 2011-2025 and subsequent waste feasibility study.

A key principle of the ACT government’s approach to waste management is the proximity principle, which is described in section 9 of the Waste Management and


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