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The committee acknowledges the assistance also of government officials in facilitating the appearance before the committee of two expert toxicologists, who are employed by the Government to advise it on possible health problems from the former sheep dip sites. The Government has also made these experts available to advise individual residents, and the committee commends this approach. The toxicologists stated their view that, on the evidence analysed to date, there is no evidence of high levels of arsenic in people living on former sheep dip sites, nor is there evidence of undue contamination of food grown on these properties or their soil. Notwithstanding this view, the committee was told by some Theodore residents that they remain anxious about the health effects of the former sheep dips and about the process used by government officials to investigate and inform their local community.

It is obvious to the committee that there remains a very deep level of anxiety among some Theodore residents about their future. It is also obvious to the committee that the Government should act quickly to settle this unease. It should not be allowed to fester indefinitely. It appears to the committee that some residents simply wish to leave the locality and will not feel at ease until they have been assisted to move to an entirely new location. Some of these same residents told the committee that they do not like Government proposals to buy contaminated land and develop it as a park once it has been remediated. They stated that they bought their properties, knowing that other residences would be alongside them, and this is the way they would like it to continue.

The committee considers that, in order to ease the anxiety of residents living in or near contaminated sites, the Government should move quickly to buy the two homes and land that have been the subject of extensive discussions but about which no agreement has yet been reached. The committee has heard that land valuations are a problem on contaminated sites. The Institute of Valuers stated this plainly, and the committee concurs. In relation to what value the Government should place upon homes whose owners simply want to move, it seems to the committee that this has to be the market value of the homes as though they were not affected by contamination. This is the only fair way for the Government to handle the problem.

The committee was led to understand that the problem of deep community anxiety in Theodore is a localised one, not to be repeated elsewhere in Canberra. The committee was assured by government officials that they have learnt from the Theodore experience and are instituting effective mechanisms to handle the concerns of residents living on or near contaminated sites in other parts of Canberra. In the absence of a Government submission, the committee could not feel confident about that assurance. As I said earlier, we now have that submission. The committee expects this matter to be addressed in that submission.

The hearing did not confine itself to the problems in Theodore. Representatives of the Belconnen Community Council raised concerns about contamination from the Belconnen landfill site. They asked specific questions, such as whether contaminated dust and dirt is being blown by the prevailing north-west winds towards local residences - one local residence was of particular interest to the committee - and whether contaminated leachate is entering Ginninderra Creek and the Murrumbidgee River. The committee notes that

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