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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3395 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

people put the words "Let democracy rule" in their submission. At least they are sensible. Ms Tucker, if what has been written in the Canberra Times is true, you owe not only the Save the Ridge an apology but the rest of Canberra an apology, and I look forward to hearing that from you.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (5.19): Mr Speaker, the decision that has been made about the Gungahlin Drive extension is a decision which has occupied my mind for a long period of time. As has been noted already in this debate, during the Third Assembly I served as Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning, and in that capacity I was charged with the responsibility of deciding what ought to occur with respect to what was then the John Dedman Drive, now the Gungahlin Drive extension,. Towards the end of the Third Assembly the government, after a series of processes, a number of studies and other work, came to the view and put the view to the Assembly-and indeed to an Assembly inquiry, as I recall-that a route which took the proposed road to the east of the Australian Institute of Sport was the best way of addressing the issues that needed to be faced up to, issues to do with the environment, to do with the amenity of people who lived close to the road, to do with the functionality of the Institute of Sport and to do with the effective movement of people into and out of Gungahlin from and to other parts of the city.

In making that decision, a question of balance had to be achieved. I say in this debate today, very emphatically, that the argument that there is all merit on one side of this debate and not on the other is simply unsustainable. There are a range of views in this debate which deserve to be taken seriously. I know that people have argued that the eastern route is more environmentally damaging than the western route, but I am pleased to note that there are some in this debate who would be prepared to acknowledge that there are issues of environmental damage associated with the western route as well, particularly associated with grasslands north of Ginninderra Drive and with remnant bushland to the west of Bruce Stadium.

Let me make a couple of points about things that have been said in this debate which simply are not sustainable. It was argued that this decision is being rushed. This decision was very much a decision that was before me and about which I made recommendations to the government and ultimately to the Assembly in the middle of 1997. It is now 2001, and I do not think in any way, shape or form the argument can be advanced that the government is moving faster than it ought to. Indeed, in other circumstances, if the government were to take five or six years over a decision of this kind, a decision with which the rest of the Assembly agreed, we would be held up to ridicule for having taken so long to make a decision.

Mr Smyth, the present minister for planning, proposed to put a draft variation to the Territory Plan on the table in May of 1999. He was gazumped by an Assembly inquiry, and that process ultimately led to the latest version of that variation being tabled in the Assembly earlier this year. There is no way that that process could amount in any shape or form to rushing the decision.

It was also suggested that this decision should be deferred until after the people of the ACT have had the chance to have their say. It needs to be noted in that context that as the then government had put its position very clearly in 1997, it is arguable that the people of

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