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MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much. To start with, I can assure Ms Follett that I did consult with my Cabinet colleagues before the decision was taken, to dispel what seems to be a popularly-held view that I did not. Very definitely, the Cabinet was well informed and very much part of those discussions. The negotiations with the Commonwealth, I believe, went quite smoothly. Certainly, they were required in a very short timeframe. But, Ms Follett, this is not a new issue. This issue has been on the agenda of this place ever since the closure of the Royal Canberra Hospital. This was not something that had to be decided in 24 hours. It was something that should have been decided in the last three years.
Ms Follett: Exactly. My point exactly.
MRS CARNELL: Your Government chose not to do anything for three or four years. After lots of discussion, over a long period, surprising as it may seem to you, we were very well aware of what we thought should happen with Acton and Kingston. We believe that it is appropriate to go ahead with the Kingston foreshore development, with an international competition, with something that will really be a shot in the arm for business in the ACT, and in the region as well; something that will be a focus not just for business but for arts and culture in this city for a long time to come. What we also believed, strongly, was that while there was a stand-off - a stand-off that you had allowed to continue for, as I said, a very long period - nothing was going to happen on either site. We believe that the deal that was done was an appropriate deal.
It is interesting to note that yesterday I got a letter from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies thanking me for the role that we have played in helping them to find a new home. It says that the council is delighted with the Acton Peninsula proposal and looks forward to a smooth transition period and consultative future. There we are. I am very happy to table that. They know that this has been part of a long process - not something that happened in 24 hours, but a long process. You know that, previous Chief Minister. You knew that when you wrote to Paul Keating, back in 1992, when all of these negotiations that you could not bring to fruition happened; when you were proposing that Acton Peninsula - again I quote - presented an “unparalleled opportunity in the long term for the development of an urban village, based on a mix of medium- and high-density housing”. Housing! Quite seriously, since then, during that period, the NCPA has had ongoing consultations. What is the thing that has come out of that? The one thing that the people of Canberra do not want is medium- and high-density housing on that site. What they want is something that is available to all members of the community, not just in Canberra but externally; something that is of national significance.
I believe that the Gallery of Aboriginal Australia is something of national significance. We believe that the whole museum should go ahead. We will continue to lobby for that. Now that Acton Peninsula is available for the Commonwealth to go ahead, there will be no excuses for them not to take the project through to its logical conclusion, and that is for the whole museum to be on that site. We believe strongly that we have allowed something to go ahead, not just the Gallery of Aboriginal Australia but also the Kingston foreshore development - something that, obviously, you were trying to do in 1992, and you failed.