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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2233 ..

MS DUNDAS (11.27): The Australian Democrats are happy to support this motion. We are disappointed that, as we understand from media reports, the rest of the Assembly will not join the crossbenches in supporting the east O'Malley woodlands.

Biodiversity continues to be eroded in Canberra by increasing development. Yellow box/red gum grassy woodland exists only in scattered areas of western ACT, and has been declared an endangered ecological community. A number of plant, bird and insect species associated with yellow box/red gum grassy woodland have also been declared as vulnerable to extinction or endangered in the ACT, including the button wrinklewort, the small purple pea, the hooded robin, the swift parrot, the superb parrot, the brown treecreeper, the painted honeyeater, the regent honeyeater and the perunga grasshopper.

The proposed east O'Malley estate is almost entirely situated on yellow box/red gum grassy woodland. While I see that the preliminary assessment notes that the areas of highest conservation value are preserved from development, the fact remains that this estate will destroy a large amount of this endangered ecosystem. Already we have removed 75 per cent of this ecological community from the ACT, and it is extremely irresponsible of this government to further erode the remaining patches.

Furthermore, Mr Speaker, the proposed development will not only remove sections of the woodland but further degrade the adjacent high-quality site. The extension of urban development is likely to increase the intrusion of exotic weeds and plants into the woodland as the borders are cultivated with foreign garden plants. The increase in domestic animals will also see increased pressures on native wildlife and the swelling of the nearby population will almost certainly increase human infringement on the woodlands for recreational use and further disrupt and impact on the natural ecosystem.

The government has announced a review of Action Plan No 10, which is designed to protect the yellow box/red gum grassy woodlands in the territory. Seeing that this land sale will directly affect areas considered by the action plan, it is obviously pre-emptive to begin any development on this site until the review that this government has initiated is actually completed.

My office has received a huge number of complaints from residents living in this area about both the impacts and design of the eastern O'Malley estate. It appears that this development hardly has overwhelming community support. I believe it is in the best interests of both our environmental heritage and retaining residential amenity to halt this land sell-off until Action Plan No 10 has been thoroughly reviewed and implemented.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.29): Ms Tucker has proposed that the auction of land in east O'Malley be cancelled and any decisions deferred to a future time. I would like to outline for members the lengthy and careful consideration that has led to the decision by the government to release this site.

I also want to indicate very clearly that I reject Ms Tucker's suggestion that this is in some way a cowardly move by the government. I doubt that you could accuse any government of being cowardly by advertising its intention to auction this site through the public notices of the Canberra Times. That is not the action of a government intent on

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