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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3310 ..

Land shortage

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Minister for Planning. Minister, in the Canberra Times of 5 September, the following was attributed to you:

There is a real and increasingly immediate prospect now that this land supply will be exhausted within the next 5-10 years if current population growth lifts even modestly above its current 1 per cent, or if further land is removed from the residential land release program due to ecological concerns.

Is the minister aware of the deep anxiety caused in the building industry, one of the real drivers of growth and employment in this territory, by his remarks? Will the minister now identify to the Assembly those greenfield development sites he considers at risk and why they are risk? If he won't, why won't he?

MR CORBELL: I am very happy to answer Mr Stefaniak's question. I can appreciate the concern in the building industry-as much as the government has concerns about it itself. But it would be foolish of this government to not make public its concerns about prospective land supply and instead continue, as the Liberals would like it to do, as though everything was fine. The reality is that everything may not be fine. The situation of our land supply may very well change in ways that we could not have predicted even a few years ago.

As I indicated in my answer to Mr Stefaniak yesterday, first of all, Canberra has a finite supply of residential land. Secondly, the main development front is increasingly focused in the north Gungahlin area. Thirdly, that land is subject to considerations, in particular the yellow box/red gum grassy woodland community, which is an endangered ecological community. Fourthly, if assessments by the community result in changes in expectation as to what sort of land should be protected as part of that ecological community, it may result in less land being available than we originally predicted.

Those are the circumstances that the government believes are an important consideration now. They are not some esoteric debate for 10 or 20 years time. They are key issues that the government needs to be aware of now, and this government is aware of them. It is incumbent on this government to signal those issues early to the broader community, which is what I have done.

MR STEFANIAK: I have a supplementary question. Is the minister aware that his policy prevarications are already giving rise to several schemes for dormitory suburbs across the border in New South Wales? How can he square this exporting of sprawl with his professed commitment to sustainable development?

MR CORBELL: The Liberals can't have it both ways. The Liberals can't claim that there is 30 years worth of land supply and then criticise urban sprawl. You are on the record as saying you think there is 30 years worth of land supply left in Canberra and there is nothing to worry about. That is what Mrs Dunne has said.

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