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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1809 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

on the other side of the road. All of those issues have been very well addressed, as have the retention of existing trees wherever possible and the planting of new trees. This is the same sort of approach the Labor Party would like to see in relation to the Federal Highway inside the ACT. It is not a confrontationist approach and it certainly is not an approach driven by some strange group on the outer for some sort of ideological ends. It is an approach that recognises that development can go hand in hand with the preservation and the enhancement of the natural environment.

Because to date we have not seen this level of engagement from authorities here in the ACT, the Labor Party believes that it is appropriate that there be an environment advisory group to assist with this issue, to provide the advice on the route design and the environmental management during construction that we need if we are to get a good-quality result. It is a sensible proposition and I urge the Government to accept it. It will mean that in the end we get a positive outcome and a good result, allowing the duplication to occur but making sure the values of the environment are maintained and indeed enhanced.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (5.26): It is curious that the reason we should have an advisory environment group is that we had such a group for the road along Lake George. It is true that such a group was established to assist with the Lake George work. I am told that significant environmental issues arose in running the road between the lake and the very steep hills there. The New South Wales RTA took that on board and agreed that such a group was appropriate for that location at that time. We are talking about a different section of road. Part of the upgrade will be in the ACT and part of it will be in New South Wales. It is the position of the RTA that there is no need for such a group for this section of road, because there are no significant environmental issues that would raise the need for such a group. We on the ACT side of the border have come to the same conclusion.

The 1995 corridor selection study included a large amount of public consultation. EISs were done, submissions were received and they were addressed jointly by the RTA and the Department of Urban Services. Gary Humphries, in 1997, wrote to Craig Knowles to say that they believed that the process had been fine. The New South Wales Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, Paul Whelan, accepted the joint assessment and approved the project, and on 8 May 1998 the Commonwealth Environment Minister, Robert Hill, decided that all environmental requirements had been satisfied. Because no complex environmental issues were raised in the assessment process, there is no need for an environment advisory group as suggested by Ms Tucker. The upgrade of the Lake George section of the Federal Highway was very different.

It is curious, as I have said, that on the RTA side of the border we will not have such a group. Neither should we on the ACT side. In the lead-up to the EISs, submissions were asked for and, quite rightly, the Conservation Council put in a submission. In that submission the council stated that it believed the environmental impact statement was very thorough. Given the concerns raised here today, it is curious that there were no submissions by the then two Greens. I was not informed whether Labor made a submission or not. Perhaps Mr Corbell would like to tell us what Labor said if they made a submission when it was appropriate to raise concerns.

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