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Acton-Kingston Land Swap

MS McRAE: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, prior to your announcement of the Kingston-Acton land swap, what advice were you given about the extent of likely contamination, particularly in regard to asbestos on the Kingston site?

MRS CARNELL: Contamination was an issue, obviously, the whole time that negotiations were going on - not just this set of negotiations but, I am sure, negotiations that happened when Ms Follett was in the job. If it was not, it should have been. It has been well known that there is asbestos in the old hospital building and in a number of other older buildings around Canberra. There is the issue of the Government Printing Office and potential lead contamination there.

Mr Berry: What about Kingston?

MRS CARNELL: That is in Kingston, surprising as it may seem. By the way, just for interest, so is the Leichhardt Street Studios; but we will not get into that. As I said yesterday in regard to contamination, it really depends on what you are going to use the site for.

Mr Berry: So, you do not know what asbestos is there.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Please allow the Chief Minister to answer Ms McRae's question.

MRS CARNELL: Asbestos obviously is an extremely important issue. Until we go through this whole process, looking at what buildings need to be removed, which buildings do not need to be removed, and what we are going to use sites for, it is simply impossible to make statements on what the cost of removing asbestos or, for that matter, levelling the buildings will be. For us to go ahead with the Kingston foreshore development, it is obviously necessary for a number of buildings to be levelled. There is no doubt about that. This is one of the most exciting projects that the ACT Government and the ACT building community would ever have. The fact is, that no matter what you do on the Kingston foreshore, buildings are going to have to be demolished. As you would be aware, the proposal for the Kingston foreshore is a joint venture between the ACT Government and the private sector. We would hope that the Commonwealth Government and the NCPA are interested in that as well, and, of course, ACTEW. The ACT Government will give the land as its contribution to the development.

Ms Follett: Give?

MRS CARNELL: To the joint venture, Chief Minister - previous Chief Minister. I am sorry. One day I will get it right. Ms Follett, we have said categorically that this is a joint venture. The private sector will bring the capital to this joint venture. Therefore, things like levelling buildings and so on will be handled by a joint venture partnership. It is not going to be simply a government project. It would be stupid for that to be the case. That is the sort of thing the previous Government would have done.

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