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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4609 ..

MR BERRY: I will ask a supplementary question. When will you introduce a Bill to remove all the legal doubts and this comedy of errors, once and for all?

MRS CARNELL: When I have seen the legal advice that I indicated to this Assembly I had sought last Tuesday. I have to admit that at this moment I have not seen the legal advice on the issue. The preliminary legal advice the Attorney-General spoke about when he spoke on this issue indicated that Determination No. 227 was valid, but we did seek further legal advice, just to be sure on this issue. At this stage, I have not seen the advice.

Regional Social Plan

MS HORODNY: My question is to the Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning. For nearly two years, the Government has been working on a regional social plan, in conjunction with councils in this region. There have been a number of meetings, a draft report has been prepared, and a conference was planned, which was cancelled at very short notice because the whole project was abandoned. Could you please explain why this project was abandoned and what the Government's position as the regional leader and the key player in this plan was in relation to abandoning the project? Can you inform the Assembly how much ACT Government money was wasted in working on a social plan, which was then thrown away after two years' work?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Ms Horodny for that question. It is a very good question. Ms Horodny will be aware that there was a meeting of the regional leaders forum a few weeks ago. I am not sure whether Ms Horodny was present yesterday for the launch of the strategic plan in the reception room of the Assembly, but she would have heard the chairman of what is now called the Australian Capital Region Development Council, Collin Freeland, point out that the regional leaders forum was the most positive development that has occurred in the area of cross-border cooperation in this part of southern New South Wales in many years. He praised the Chief Minister for having taken that initiative.

That regional leaders forum met a few weeks ago, and I understand that it was deeply concerned about elements of the regional social plan that had been developed up to that point. I have not discussed it in detail with the Chief Minister, but I understand that the Chief Minister agreed to reconsider the direction being taken with respect to that plan and, if necessary, to accommodate the concerns the regional leaders have raised. I intend to discuss with the Chief Minister an appropriate response to that problem. Clearly, there is no point in having a regional social plan if the leaders of other parts of our region are not comfortable with the process being used there. It therefore behoves us to sit down with them and work out what problems there are, how we might overcome them, and where we go from here to develop a way of collectively dealing with the social problems in our region.

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