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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1810 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

The whole concept of putting this road in has been brought forward very graciously by the Federal Government in response to our concerns and the pressure of the Carnell Government to ensure that this road is available for the Olympics. It therefore gives us a very tight timeframe in which to carry out the works.

A large number of groups are working in partnership to ensure that this project goes ahead in an appropriate and an environmentally responsible manner. They include the National Capital Authority, Canberra Urban Parks, Canberra Nature Park, Planning and Land Management, Environment ACT, ACT Heritage, ACT Roads and Stormwater and the RTA, in conjunction with engineers, designers and landscape architects. Because the road goes through areas under the responsibility of the National Capital Authority, the authority require, and are strongly supportive of, the minimising of the impact of the works on the surrounding area, as are we. They want to formalise that approach to the national capital and retain as much of the existing landscape as is possible, as we do. The number of trees retained will be maximised where there is no conflict with vehicle safety standards. This, after all, will be a road and it must be remembered, first and foremost, that this project is about road safety. Indeed, the stretch of Federal Highway all the way from Lake George has been the scene of many accidents and deaths. We are trying to put in place a road that will allow people to complete their trip safely.

Wherever possible, we have kept as many trees as possible. We would want to do that. Why would we not want to do that? Some trees will, unfortunately, need to go as a result of the new road. However, I can assure members that we have undertaken to, and will indeed, plant more trees than there are there now to ensure that the amenity of the area is maintained. If fact, median strips have recently changed to increase tree retention and to reduce the major excavation scar at the Majura Road interchange, and the design team is currently examining the excavation slopes, which will be tapered off at the top to soften the impact of the work. All new plantings will be Australian native species appropriate to the area and consistent with the existing landscape. In the main, local species will be used.

This project must be completed by June 2000 in time for the Sydney Olympics. The week before last I met with the Conservation Council and said to them that I am advised that no complex environmental issues were raised during the formal assessment process. That is consistent with the advice being given in New South Wales. The Conservation Council have raised this issue with me, and I have offered them a briefing on what has been done to maximise the environmental amenity of the area and have offered to speak with them again after that. I would like to thank the Conservation Council for their part in the EIS and for their belief that the EIS was very sound.

This motion simply duplicates a process that I believe has already been carried out. It creates another committee to do jobs that are already being done. We will manage the environment to get the best results for the environment. As I have said, I have arranged for full briefings on this issue for the Conservation Council. I believe that what we are doing is correct, and the Government will not be supporting this motion.

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