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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 138 ..

Rural Residential Development

MS TUCKER: My question, directed to the Minister for Urban Services, relates to the Government's proposal to allow rural residential development in Melrose Valley. Minister, on the last sitting day of 1998 I asked you a question regarding how the Government, in its response to the Rural Policy Taskforce report, had determined that Melrose Valley was suitable for rural residential development, pre-empting by some nine months the release of the Government's discussion paper on rural residential development in which the assessment of suitable sites was supposed to have been undertaken. You took the question on notice but I was not provided with a response till the beginning of February, and only after some prompting. Unfortunately, the response was totally inadequate, as it only referred to the Government's discussion paper and not to the earlier Rural Policy Taskforce report, which is what I was asking about. Will you give me a direct answer to my original question now, or are you trying to hide something?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I am not trying to hide anything at all. I thought the answer we had given you was in response to the question you asked. If I have answered in response to the wrong report, I would be happy to find that information. I will have to check the letter. I thought the letter had answered it, but if the letter has not answered it to your satisfaction I will certainly seek more information for you.

MS TUCKER: I look forward to that answer to my question. I do not mind who answers my supplementary question, although I do not think it would be Mr Moore. It could be Mr Humphries or Mrs Carnell. I want to know whether any developer has in the past spoken to the Government about the possible subdivision of Melrose Valley for rural residential development which led to its being withheld from consideration for a long-term rural lease as originally recommended by the Rural Policy Taskforce?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have not spoken to Mr Moore. No developer has spoken to me about rural residential development in Melrose Valley. I would have to check to see whether previous approaches have been made to the Government.

Government Schools - Enrolments

MR BERRY: My question is to the Minister for Education, Mr Stefaniak. The Minister has made statements on a claimed 17,000 excess spaces in government schools and the cost of this excess space to the ACT budget. Minister, given that these spaces represent 30 per cent, that is about 30 schools, of the ACT's total school places, is it on your agenda to close any schools? Further, the Minister has stated that the excess space in schools increases the costs per student, with limited educational benefits. What is your estimate of the additional costs of the excess spaces in schools? I repeat the questions. Is it on your agenda, Minister, to close any schools? What is your estimate of the additional cost of the excess space in schools?

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