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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1045 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

However, the issue has now become urgent with the announcement by Mr Smyth that a draft plan variation will be released in mid-May. It is therefore very important that the Government first explain to the Assembly and the community why the road is needed in the first place, and the basis of its decision to proceed with this road alignment, through providing a formal response to the points in my motion.

The first four points in my motion were taken from the original motion. The last three points are new. Subparagraph (e) is included because the Government made an announcement about this strategy, but nothing has been heard since. Subparagraph (f) is included as the Minister has already talked about the possibility of building tunnels under Bruce and O'Connor Ridge, which obviously is going to have cost implications. So the community needs to know what we are getting in for here in the future in terms of payment for this road, whether the expense is worth it, and what is the comparative cost of the other alignment. It seems basic to good business management to do that kind of cost analysis before we make a decision. Subparagraph (g) relates to the Minister's decision not to do any further environmental assessment on the parkway, which I find amazing. If a major road going right through a section of the Canberra Nature Park is not significant enough to warrant an EIS then I do not know what is.

I was hoping that these points in my motion would be referred to the Urban Services Committee for inquiry so that these broader issues can be adequately considered by the committee and commented on by the community, but I understand that as Mr Corbell's amendment will get up it will just go straight to the committee. But they will still have the opportunity, obviously, to look at how the Government has responded to these issues. Critically, however, this work does have to happen before the draft variation is released. I am very concerned that once this variation is released the debate will then become narrowly focused on the route of the parkway, and the broader issues of the appropriate transport strategy for Gungahlin and North Canberra will be overlooked.

The main justification for the Government proceeding with this plan variation appears to be to give developers in the Bruce precinct the go-ahead with development to the west of the AIS. Really, what is more important - getting the transport strategy right for Gungahlin and Canberra, and North Canberra in particular, for years to come, or getting a few more buildings started in Bruce? I think the community would want the transport strategies sorted out first. There can be no argument to support pushing this through in a hurry.

It is quite cynical to have called it the Gungahlin Drive extension because people in Gungahlin actually are of the view that this means something is going to happen for them immediately, and I do not believe that is the Government's intention at all in terms of actually building the road. Mr Smyth wants to tell us they are considering starting next year. We will be interested to hear that, but, as far as I have heard from the Government, it is still about 10 years off.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, do you want to move your amendment now? I think it might expedite debate a little.

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