Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (22 May) . . Page.. 1616 ..
MS TUCKER: My question is to the Chief Minister. I have taken an interest in the questions that were raised last week about the Acton-Kingston land swap. I note that on 15 May you told the Assembly that under section 51 of the self-government Act the Commonwealth has to indemnify the Territory for any contamination on national land at the Kingston site. I assume that you were actually referring to the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act, as I could not find a section 51 of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act; but on reading the ACT (Planning and Land Management) Act I noticed that you quoted only part of section 51 and not subsection 51(3), which allows an exemption to this indemnity which is described in section 30. When you follow through other parts of the Act, it implies that, once national land is transferred to the Territory, the Territory government incurs full liability for that land and the Commonwealth ceases to have liability. Chief Minister, you said at various times last week that responsibility for clean-up of the national land at Kingston will be negotiated with the Commonwealth, and on 16 May you said that you will not accept this land until an agreement is reached; but what real bargaining power does the ACT Government have when under the ACT (Planning and Land Management) Act the Commonwealth needs only to put a notice in the Commonwealth Gazette to declare ACT national land to be Territory land, and when once land has been passed to the Territory the Territory will incur full liability for its clean-up?
MRS CARNELL: It is a hypothetical question.
MR SPEAKER: It is, and you may also be in - - -
Ms Tucker: It is an interpretation of the Act.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Chief Minister, you may also be requested to give a legal opinion. I simply caution you on that matter.
Mr Wood: It did not stop her last week using the same tactic to talk about things.
MRS CARNELL: I did not interpret it. That was an interpretation. Last week I made it quite clear that, as we had always said, clean-up of the Kingston site will be based upon negotiation with the Commonwealth. To my knowledge, the Commonwealth has never gazetted land to the ACT Government without telling us about it or talking to us about it first. I cannot understand why the Federal Government would ever do that, particularly as they have given us an undertaking that they will negotiate with us on the issue of contamination on the Kingston site. While it stays with the Commonwealth, it is their responsibility. We have an undertaking that they will negotiate with us. We certainly will not be in the business of agreeing to a gazettal until a negotiated settlement is reached.