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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2775 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Broadly, the proposal for North Watson was a very sensible one because it would enable us to use existing infrastructure. The people moving into that area would have the use of the local shops and school. The main problem with that draft variation and proposed development relates to increased traffic on the roads and the need to upgrade the water and sewerage mains. That is inevitable. Northbourne Avenue and perhaps some of the other major thoroughfares would become busier as a result, but that is going to happen to roads in other parts of Canberra as the population moves to more distant parts of Canberra.

It was suggested at various times that the North Watson area was a wonderful natural environment. It is really a pretty degraded environment. There are some very good trees that must be retained; but, search as people might, I do not think they found a legless lizard there and there was no evidence of any worthwhile native grasses in the area. This area, which had been grazed over by cattle, horses and the like over many years, has no remaining natural vegetation other than some fine trees that need to be retained. In all the circumstances, it was a sensible proposal.

The draft variation also wiped out the road reserve linking Gungahlin and Northbourne Avenue to Monash Drive. The Labor Government had always been quite clear that Monash Drive would not be built, and this was one step in that direction. I always thought that was a good proposal for the local residents. The option prior to the draft variation was for caravan parks, motels, accommodation facilities and the like, with the prospect of Monash Drive. The draft variation excluded motel-style accommodation in favour of residential accommodation and provided a buffer. There was to be no six-lane highway between residents and the new development. It seemed to me to be a very good proposal. I think it was broadly accepted by the community, though not by everybody in the community. This proposal for the Starlight Drive-In site, which may be part of that broad area of development, now comes back for further consideration and final judgment.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (11.18): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak again.

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: I am speaking again, Mr Speaker, only because Mr Wood, in the course of his remarks, posed a question which I thought I should answer. In the Government response we addressed other issues relating to the report, and I hope that those comments more or less stand. Mr Speaker, I have made comments about North Watson in the past. It is unfortunate that when I describe to journalists what I mean by North Watson in this context - that is, North Watson other than the Starlight Drive-In site - they tend to refer to the area in a shorthand way as just North Watson. It is true that I have indicated very clearly my view that North Watson should not go ahead, for the reason that there appears to be simply too much land in the ACT marketplace at the moment and there is a strong case for reining in the volume of available land and the government land release program in order to achieve some retention of the value of land in the Territory, particularly in areas of established housing. It is the view of the Government that, for that reason, the North Watson development should be at least postponed.

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