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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3469 ..

Mr Corbell: Mr Speaker, I take a point of order.

MR SPEAKER: I have to uphold it. An explanation was sought in relation to Rugby League Park in Ainslie.

Mr Corbell: I assume the Minister has finished his answer. Mr Speaker, you have already ruled that it is not relevant for the Minister to answer this question by referring to the ACT superannuation liability.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, you raised the question of relevance.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, they are not interested in the answer. They are not interested in the facts. They left this mess for us to clean up. Ms McRae, Mr Humphries and Mr Hird have worked to clear up this debt. I will finish by simply saying that this is standard practice. The debt involved was written off as an unrecoverable debt by the department. It was handled by the department as a normal administrative matter.

Rural Residential Development

MS TUCKER: My question is directed to the Minister for Urban Services and it relates to the Government's proposals for rural residential. In July last year the Government's Rural Policy Taskforce released its report in which it recommended that ACT land set aside for primary production purposes not be used for rural residential development. The Government's response was that it did not agree with this recommendation and would undertake a study of rural residential development to identify suitable locations and management policies for such areas. The Government's response also included a statement that consideration of rural lease extensions in Melrose Valley be deferred until the study of rural residential development was completed even though the task force recommended that this land be given a 99-year rural lease. The study has recently been released which, surprise, surprise, recommends that Melrose Valley is a suitable site for rural residential development. My question is: How did the Government make the original assessment last year that Melrose Valley was suitable for rural residential development when this work was supposed to have been part of the later rural residential report?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I was not the Minister responsible at that time but I will seek information on how that determination was made. We are very pleased that the rural residential study is out there. The document has created a lot of interest. We have had a significant number of people ask for copies and we are waiting to get their answers. We look forward to processing this matter as this Government clearly believes that rural residential will be of huge benefit to the ACT.

MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Is it the case then that the rural residential report is really just a justification of previous decisions made by government on where it wants this type of development to occur rather than a comprehensive assessment of the appropriateness of rural residential development in the ACT?

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