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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2084 ..

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I would simply say in relation to that that this Government regards choice by parents as a very important aspect of education; indeed, choice by people in relation to a lot of things concerning the governance of this Territory. Choice is a very important aspect of education and we are well aware of the fact that about, I think, 35 to 36 per cent of our parents actually choose to send their children to non-government schools. The rest choose to send their children to government schools. We have an excellent education system, and it is because of the excellence of both our government sector and our non-government sector.

Banks - Stormwater Damage

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, I address my question to the Minister for planning, Mr Smyth. Is the Minister aware of the situation faced by the residents - - -

Mr Berry: Are you sure?

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Hird, ask the question, please.

MR HIRD: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am not going to ask for your protection, but I will ask my question in silence. As I was saying, my question is to the Minister for planning, Mr Smyth. Is the Minister aware of the situation faced by residents of the suburb of Banks through stormwater damage from what appears to be flooded aquifers?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I thank the member for his question. Yes, I am aware of this problem. On Monday officers from both PALM and the ACT roads and stormwater sections visited the area of Bellchambers Crescent and Hall Place in Banks to meet with the residents - at that time it was actually raining - to inspect the affected properties and to collect any information they could. They met with three different residents and inspected four properties where these drainage problems have been reported. These problems, I am told, are not unusual for newly-developed suburbs on hillsides. The engineers from my department have provided some advice about subsurface and surface drainage to the residents, which the residents can use to protect their investments.

The recent record rains obviously have increased the amount of water flowing in these slopes, Mr Speaker. I think that is clearly demonstrated in the areas where the aquifers have come to the surface. The Government, generally, has not provided subsoil drainage to blocks in the past. Generally, that is provided by lessees in locations once they have built their houses and any other structures that they wish to put on the blocks. But I have asked my department to check further and to examine the stormwater infrastructure to ensure that it is functioning to its capacity and, indeed, to see whether there are any additional works that may be required.

MR HIRD: Thank you, Minister. I have a supplementary question. Are you aware of Mr Hargreaves's comments about this flooding and his suggestion that it is the result of the Government's incompetence?

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