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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (31 August) . . Page.. 2656 ..

MS TUCKER (5.38): I think that is a stunning statement. Always remember that Mr Smyth knows that we will never know anything more about remediation because we know that the technology that exists now is as good as it is ever going to get in terms of understanding the impact of contaminants. That is a really amazing statement, Mr Smyth. The precautionary principle takes into account the fact that knowledge does increase in particular areas, that there may well be a greater understanding of the impact of contaminants and that we may need to use better technology developed later to remediate this land, in which case we will need to be able to trace the locations.

As Mr Corbell said, it is also a basic consumer right to know. In Canberra you could easily be buying a piece of land that was once a petrol station. There are lots of sites like that now. You are choosing to buy that land as a resident. It will be zoned residential. In the future, someone may be very interested to know whether it was once a petrol station site, particular if they are chemical sensitive. There are such people in our society - a growing number, in fact. This is really a very unacceptable position from a government that claims to have this very strong commitment to the environment and to health issues.

Mr Smyth pointed out that we object sometimes when government policies seem to be supported only by the fact that New South Wales does it, but standards are always part of the debate, something which Mr Smyth omitted to acknowledge. In this case, New South Wales has a higher standard, so we are quite prepared to encourage this Government to have a high standard on this important environmental and health issue.

MR CORBELL (5.40): The Minister seems to confuse the issue of having entries on the contaminated sites register. He is saying they are either remediated or not. My understanding of Ms Tucker's amendments is that she provides for a category on the register that indicates sites that have been remediated, and that is where these sites would go. There is very legitimate community concern that people should know what has occurred on a piece of land. People should know where contamination has occurred, even if the contamination has been addressed in accordance with Acts such as the Environment Protection Act.

I heard the Chief Minister comment, "We removed the soil". Removal of soil certainly occurs in a large number of contaminated sites but not all of them. There are other ways of addressing remediation. Those techniques do not always involve the removal of soil.

The bottom line is that a householder or a would-be householder should not have to resort to the Freedom of Information Act to know what has occurred on the land that they are purchasing. If that is the Government's answer, it is an unacceptable one. You should not have to resort to an FOI when you are contemplating purchasing a block of land.

If there has been remediation, and if the Government is so confident that remediation has been successful, then they should not be afraid of making a list of sites available. If they have nothing to hide, if they have nothing to be concerned about, then they should not be afraid of putting those sites on a list in the register. That is what these

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