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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3385 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

It is obvious from the debate today that unfortunately the government has the numbers and that the variation will go ahead and the western alignment will be removed from the plan, and that is a pity. To some extent we are here now basically putting on the record what we perceive to be the flaws in the decision that it seems has been made.

To some extent it is difficult to stand here and respond with gusto, knowing that the deed is done. We can respond, certainly, by expressing serious disappointment. My sense of disappointment is heightened simply by the paucity of argument. There is just no strength to the argument.

We know where the eastern route and the western route are. When you stand the two routes side by side, I simply cannot see the basis on which you can honestly come to a conclusion that this community is advantaged by removing the western route from the plan and persisting with a determination to construct this road along the eastern route.

When we balance up the inherent irreplaceable value of this piece of Canberra nature park against the western option, I just cannot see what the interests are that we are pretending to protect. I cannot see that the values of the western alignment are in any sense-other than perhaps in a dollar sense-greater than the values we should seek to protect in relation to the Canberra nature park into which this road will intrude.

My colleague Mr Corbell went through the values in some detail and it is perhaps not all that fruitless for each of us to stand here and repeat them. Those values are so self-evident. The values that we are protecting along the western route include: the enjoyment of some peace by residents at the AIS; a car park to the west of the AIS and Bruce Stadium; a feeling amongst the football codes that the road would be a real pest; and some developmental opportunities.

What else is there? There is nothing else. That is it; it is as simple as that. When it all boils down, there is nothing else. There are, in the scheme of things, some minor developmental opportunities; a car park; the enjoyment of peace and quiet by some residents of the AIS; and some concept of inviolability of the Bruce precinct. That is it; that is the scorecard.

On the other side of the ledger, of course, is the preservation of a limited amount of remaining bushland. There might be individual views about the bushland and its quality, but that is not the point. It is there, it is finite, it is incredibly valuable, and it is irreplaceable. There is value associated with it just being there. These issues are not addressed by those who support the violation of the nature park. They do not address issues around why we bother having bits of bush in any event. They do not address issues around, dare I say it, the human soul and why it is that we go into the bush from time to time. These issues need to be addressed.

In discussing this sort of issue we should not be afraid to talk about why it is that we preserve bush and why it is that we have nature parks. This is a dreadful decision, and it will be rued by those who support it.

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