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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2678 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Minister, given that the Maunsell study only covered the route of the road north of Belconnen Way, will you now commission a similar preliminary assessment to determine the most appropriate road option for the Caswell Drive duplication before any decisions are taken by your government on this alignment?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, a preliminary assessment will be a requirement of the government's proposal for the Gungahlin Drive extension. A preliminary assessment will be required under the land act. That preliminary assessment will be required to take account of the entire proposed route that the government puts forward for the Gungahlin Drive extension, once the immediate public consultation process is completed around the end of September.

The preliminary assessment, of course, is a statutory process. It requires assessment of the potential environmental, social and cultural and a range of other impacts on a variety of environments, and it is open to public comment through a formal statutory consultation process. The preliminary assessment is required before any variation to the Territory Plan can be finalised, so the process will be quite clear.

I should stress that the government has already undertaken a range of quite detailed environmental studies on its preferred route, the results of which we released some months ago now. That was undertaken by an independent consultant, not a road engineering firm. It was actually done by a consultant expert in these matters. That information is publicly available, both on the ACT government website for the GDE project, and in a hardcopy from the relevant government agencies. That information examines the issues, in particular, related to the land adjacent to Caswell Drive, which is part of the Black Mountain reserve.

A range of detailed environmental studies has already been completed, and a formal preliminary assessment, which will include an environmental assessment, will also be undertaken.

MS TUCKER: Minister, will you ensure that any study that occurs looks at all aspects of environmental impact for various options? Will you also ensure that any study determines the cost of the whole of the Gungahlin Drive extension and the associated engineering works, and compares this cost to public transport options such as a light rail system, so that we can determine what is the best use of taxpayers' money?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, the government is not going to reopen the debate on whether or not the road should be built. We have had that debate and a decision has been taken. I understand Ms Tucker's party's position on this matter. I respect that position, but I do not agree with it, and the government has made that quite clear.

Mr Speaker, the preliminary assessment will deal with the environmental impacts of the final route, as proposed by the government. That is what we are required to do under the land act. We will base our conclusion on the final route on the public comments that have been received to date, and on the detailed environmental studies and other studies that have been completed to date, all of which are publicly available for Ms Tucker to look at.

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