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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3383 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

I have largely discounted various issues that have been raised regarding the AIS master plan. The master plan has no legal standing. It is a document of intent, contingent on further planning approval and, more importantly, it would require substantial federal funding.

Mr Speaker, this is another of those times when the community has been asked to weigh up conflicting factors, the best interests of different groups of residents, the need to protect our natural environment, the financial costs involved and the need to reduce traffic congestion on residential streets. I expect this has not been an easy decision for any of us to make. As I said, Mr Speaker, it has consumed a lot of time in my office in the last couple of weeks. After long consideration of these points, on balance I will be supporting the eastern alignment. I have heard nothing in this debate that would cause me to change my mind.

I have to say, Mr Speaker, that the most difficult thing that we have had to sort out in our office is finding out what was correct, what was the truth and what was not. All the people that I spoke to were obviously very passionate about this issue, but a lot of the information that came into my office was clearly not correct. It has been a battle to try to make a decision based on the facts. I feel I have done that. I accept that, regardless of the final outcome of the vote today, some people will be unhappy because the decision has gone against them. Unfortunately, in matters like this that is always going to be unavoidable.

Mr Speaker, on a final note: I would add that I see merit in moving the point at which the new freeway crosses Belconnen Way and joins onto Caswell Drive. I have sympathy for the argument put up by Aranda residents about the noise impact, and at this stage I support moving the intersection about 200 metres eastward, as they have suggested. But that is a different issue. I had a meeting with the people who are opposed to the road altogether.

I think the worst environmental impact is going to be where Gungahlin Drive goes through the Bruce ridge. So there is clearly going to be damage. However, on balance, after taking away all the emotion and making a decision based on the facts, I feel that I have made the right choice.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (4.30): Mr Speaker, I primarily wish to reiterate the strength of the argument which my colleague Mr Corbell made in support of the disallowance. Reflecting on the debate that has taken place, I think it is worth commenting on a point that Mr Osborne made-a point that I had intended to make in any event. Mr Osborne said he thought it was important to take emotion out of the debate. I think in matters such as this, the mistake we make is to take emotion out of the debate.

It seems to me that those who argue against the western route talk about the number of trees that will be affected or perhaps an audit of costs and benefits that relates to some simple statistics. There is no regard at all for the sense of violation that putting a road through a nature park imposes. There has been no discussion about the effect of the intrusion of a major road such as this through a nature park. There has been no discussion of the sense of violation that will result from the running of a major road or a freeway through a nature park.

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