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there were better focused projects available in the ACT for better cities purposes than creating land we did not really need to develop at North Watson. Subsequent to that letter, my colleague Mr Stefaniak, as Minister for Housing, and I met with Mr Howe on 5 September this year, at which meeting we pressed our case for some reconsideration of the commitment of money through better cities to North Watson.
Mr Howe, to his credit, agreed that there were problems with the present arrangement and has agreed to consider alternative proposals for that better cities money in areas of the ACT where, hopefully, both the Commonwealth and ACT governments agree that that money would be better spent. There are some limits on that. There are some conditions that apply to that decision to potentially transfer the money. One is that it is not to be used for further studies of urban renewal or whatever it might be. Secondly, it is not to be used for greenfields areas. The result of that, Mr Speaker, is that it is not possible to use better cities money for the Gungahlin Town Centre, for example, which I think is a matter of some regret, perhaps, but it is certainly part of the Commonwealth's position. Officers are now discussing those issues with the Commonwealth.
However, I want to make it clear that if we are not able to substantiate appropriate alternative programs for the Commonwealth's benefit we will be committed to having to proceed with North Watson. That is why money appears in the capital works program for North Watson. It was the only responsible thing to do, in the absence of any clear decision from the Commonwealth, to put money in that program. North Watson will go ahead if it is not possible to identify appropriate alternative projects. One such project, Mr Speaker, would be redevelopment for public housing of some of the older blocks of public housing along Northbourne Avenue. Any member seeing those while driving up or down Northbourne Avenue would have to say that they are a rather poor introduction to Canberra and well worth considering for improvement, and a joint project between the ACT Government and better cities funding from the Commonwealth would be a very good way of spending that money.
MR CONNOLLY: My question is to Mr Humphries in his capacity as Minister for Consumer Affairs. I refer the Minister to his cynical dumping of a clear and repeated election promise to reduce petrol tax in the ACT by some 3c a litre. Is the Minister's position that, in order to allow the Government to carry out this promise, he would require written assurances from oil companies that they would guarantee a precise retail outcome involving a flow-on of any tax cut?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, the ACT Government wrote to the various oil companies - I am quite prepared to table the letters which they have all sent me in response to that request - and asked them to indicate their willingness to pass on the reduction in ACT government petrol franchise fees to the consumers, to the people for whom this money is intended. I imagined, perhaps naively, that, if the Government were