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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 960 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I also note with great interest the comments in the report on the Belconnen bus interchange in the Belconnen Town Centre. I think there are some significant issues raised here in relation to both the bus interchange and the Belconnen Town Centre and planning generally that we, as an Assembly, need to have significant regard to. The Department of Urban Services has made some allocation for forward design work for the proposed relocation of the Belconnen interchange. As members know, from announcements made in the last couple of weeks, particularly by John Fahey in the Federal Parliament, about proposed redevelopments of the Cameron and Benjamin offices, those redevelopments potentially impact very dramatically on the structure, the amenity and the vitality of the Belconnen Town Centre.

Concern is expressed by the Urban Services Committee about the extent of cooperation between the ACT planning authorities and the Commonwealth in relation to the potential relocation of the bus interchange, the redevelopment of the Belconnen Town Centre, the potential removal of the Cameron Offices, the construction of a replacement office block for the Bureau of Statistics, and potentially the sale and, who knows, the potential removal of some of the Benjamin Offices and the consequent redevelopment that that may generate in Belconnen. There is a whole range of issues here going to the integrity of Canberra's planning systems, to the Y plan, to the need to maintain an appropriate employment base in the town centres, and the need for the town centres to be able to take their place as vital living town centres for the significant communities they serve.

I have a significant concern about the need for us to ensure that the planning in the town centres is comprehensive and that it takes into account the interests of the retailers and the residents of those areas. There are significant issues there that do concern me. The redevelopment of the Cameron Offices, it seems, is a process being principally controlled by the Commonwealth. In the proposals that are being put forward and assessed by the Commonwealth, are there proposals for additional residential development on those sites? Are there proposals for additional retail development on those sites? These issues do require significant attention by the Government and by the Assembly and by those relevant communities.

There was some concentration by the Assembly on questions of process, and that is very appropriate. The Chief Minister sought to deride the committee's attention to process, but questions of process are vitally important. The committee did note a matter that has been of some concern to other members and to people within the community, and that is that the process for determining the needs in the ACT for a prison really has been pre-empted to some extent by the Government's announcements and positioning on this matter in the face of an inquiry by Mr Osborne and his committee. I think it is to be regretted that the debate that this community really does need to have about the form and style and need for a prison in the ACT has to some extent been pre-empted and made more difficult and disjointed as a result of the conflicting approaches and messages that we are getting. The size, the form, and the philosophy and principles underlying criminal justice and a new prison are very significant issues. I think the Urban Services Committee highlights the fact that that debate is being made more difficult than it should be.

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