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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 888 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The last point I want to make is that it needs to be made clear that what we are asking for is a variation process to begin. We should see what the community thinks about this. It is the normal open process to making planning decisions. Mr Speaker, I move the following amendment:

Omit "change the use to broadacre" and substitute "allow the land to be used for agricultural activities and associated residential accommodation.".

MR HARGREAVES (11.16): Mr Speaker, I wish to express my opposition to the motion and the amendment. It is with a touch of sadness that I have to express my opposition to such activities as they provide a very valuable service; there can be no question about that. The government has absolutely no problem with such activities taking place. We recognise that kids get a great buzz out of handling young animals, but they also get taught an awful lot as well. I wish the record to show that this issue is not about children being exposed to young animals; it is about a planning process. We have to be very careful, in considering the approach we take, that we address the planning issues and not the emotive issues and that we do not allow ourselves to be swayed by emotion.

Mr Speaker, I have not prepared some notes on this subject; I am merely basing my remarks on comments I have heard across the chamber this morning. I do know that there are a number of rural activities of a similar nature-not with small animals, but educative roles with a rural application-round the ACT, and these have been set up using the existing planning process, as far as I am aware.

Mr Speaker, I want to touch on a couple of the points that Ms Tucker made. Firstly, I want to challenge and refute her statement that this government gives a lot of assistance to big business and not much to small business. I would remind Ms Tucker that it was the former government that gave bucket loads of money to big business and nothing to small business. This government is only of the order of five months old and has not had an opportunity yet to give money to very many people, so let us not detract from our arguments by introducing extraneous rubbish.

Ms Tucker also said that she wishes this valuable education business to be maintained. We all do, but not being maintained at the same spot. It is not as though it has been operating from that spot for, say, 10 years and is now under threat; it has been operating elsewhere. Again, let us not cloud the issue. As far as I can determine, the family connection with the land is not being threatened. The family connection is still with the land. We do, in fact, need to pay respect to people like the Murray family who pioneered the area. That needs to be stated quite clearly. But this Assembly has to be particularly careful whenever it enters into the realm of directing a planning minister to do anything, or even creating a direction by a clever use of words.

I remind members who were present in the last Assembly that Mr Smyth's use then of the call-in powers was severely criticised by the then opposition. The attempts by the former Assembly to direct the government were felt with much discomfort by the government of the day. I have to say that the then opposition had some discomfort with that as well because we felt that such a precedent would come back and bite us.

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