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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . . Page.. 498 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

The government's option, the western alignment, could also adversely impact on the economic contribution of the AIS to the territory. The AIS attracts some 100,000 tourists out of a total of 600,000 visitors a year. Taking into account the employment it creates, about $40 million a year to the ACT's economy could be in jeopardy. Surely the western alignment is a high stakes gamble.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I find the Planning Minister's remarks in the media yesterday more than a little strange. In the newspaper, Mr Corbell was quoted as being surprised by Mr Peters' comments. I do not understand how Mr Corbell could feign surprise, because this is not the first time that the future of the AIS has been brought to his attention. Surely Mr Corbell had already discussed this roadway with the AIS. Surely he had already seen and read the submission prepared by Purdon Associates to the urban services committee of which he was a member in the last Assembly, entitled "Gungahlin Drive extension-impact on Bruce precinct".

This submission covers in detail the adverse impact that the western alignment would have on the entire Bruce precinct, including the AIS, Bruce stadium and the Bruce CIT. It discusses the impact on visitors, parking and the long-term viability of the sports facilities and the limitations it would have on future development in the precinct. The submission contains an artistic impression of the AIS master plan that would be rendered completely useless by the western alignment.

I accept that the master plan has no legal standing, but it is nonetheless a document of intent, contingent on local planning approval and, more importantly, requiring substantial federal funding. That funding would be jeopardised by the western alignment, given that various development options for the site would be limited, undermined, reduced or removed altogether.

The submission details how the western alignment would not only make the AIS a less attractive place for elite athletes, some of whom are as young as nine years old, but also substantially inconvenience visitors and patrons to the AIS campus and nearby stadiums. It also states that the western alignment would substantially diminish the attractiveness and competitiveness of the facility as a host site for major sports and entertainment events and, further, that it would weaken the long-term viability of the AIS campus as an elite sports training centre and may eventually make other sites more attractive for the AIS.

Concern about the disastrous consequences that this flawed alignment could have for the AIS is not the only reason to support the alternative alignment, the eastern alignment. It is but one of many reasons. The arguments of supporters of the government's western alignment are, in the main, an intellectual insult. They take a blinkered approach, having worked their way backwards from the answer, grasping brittle wisdom whilst doing so. There are so many things they just do not want to know, such as that the eastern alignment would cost substantially less to construct, that most of its journey around the eastern side of the Bruce precinct would be on top of an existing road or existing metal car park, and that, by far, the majority of the oft-mentioned environmental damage caused by the roadway would be caused to areas that were common to both alignment options.

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