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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3289 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

come up from time to time where one has to wonder whether the public consultation process has been adequate. In this case one has to wonder whether the community has been sufficiently educated and informed as to what this amendment really is about and what the impacts of it on the community will be.

I think that some aspects of this need to be recorded in the debate. We note that the draft variation is to do three things. It is to amend the definition of "Outdoor recreation facility" in Appendix VI of the Territory Plan to include "Equestrian facility" as a permissible use; secondly, to delete "Equestrian facility" as a separately defined use; and, finally, to amend the land use schedule for hills, ridges and buffer areas to provide for outdoor recreation facilities on public land - but there is a qualification to that - only when specifically provided for in a management plan under the Land Act. So there are still some constraints in some areas defined as public land.

There was one aspect that the committee particularly noted. The environmental assessment provisions of the Territory Plan which override this variation require that a mandatory preliminary assessment take place for an outdoor recreational facility with a site area of more than four hectares. Of course, that will apply also to equestrian facilities. If you want an equestrian facility that exceeds four hectares to replace one that has been done away with within the other areas of the city, then the proponent is going to be required to produce a preliminary assessment taking into account the environmental consequences of the potential land use.

What is being proposed not only materially affects the general use of hills, ridges and buffer areas, previously sacrosanct, but also allows the use of such areas for equestrian facilities. I would have thought that that would have been a matter of great interest to a quite large part of the community, yet there was no comment from the community in connection with that. It may be, of course, that those concerned with horse riding and the provision of equestrian facilities are well aware of, and well informed on, what the intent, the effects and the ramifications of this variation will be and found no problem with it. Perhaps silence in this case is assent, but one does have to wonder whether it has merely gone past by default and whether people are really not aware of the consequences or in fact of what is being done.

I would note also that, in spite of the extension of the land use in these areas, areas in the river corridors, mountains and bushlands are still not available for this purpose. There are areas of land which are not available for this extended use. I just wanted to note those points, Mr Speaker. Although this variation comes under the heading of "Territory Plan: Minor Corrections Series", it may not be as minor as it first appears to be. The committee has acted in the knowledge that nobody from the community objected, so presumably the community accepts this. That is why the committee has adopted the variation and recommended that it proceed. My only concern is that when people in time find out what the ramifications of this are they may find that they have some objections to it and it is a little bit too late for them to record them or take any action. Apart from that, Mr Speaker, I endorse the committee's report.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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