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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (12 March) . . Page.. 914 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

calls on him to identify the areas of high and very high conservation value and to protect them. Hence, I will not be supporting the government amendment, but I see the motion moved by Ms Tucker today as able to be incorporated into the work that the government is already doing. I hope that the Assembly supports it.

MRS DUNNE (11.26): This is a very timely debate and one that we need to have. I take heart from the minister's thoughtful presentation today. This is a very important issue. It is one about endangered communities, and we have to be mindful about the importance of our endangered communities. While we are talking about yellow box/red gum grassy woodlands and the endangered grass species that go with them, we also have to be mindful of that other endangered community: Canberrans in search of affordable housing.

I am concerned that the broad thrust of the motion, if applied, would effectively mean the end of the land release program in the territory. The minister has made a very thoughtful plea for real talk about sustainability. Members in this place like to talk about sustainability, but the harder we squeeze the land release program and development in this territory, the more likely we will be to force home builders and home owners over the border into urban sprawl, which is hardly sustainable. The more we squeeze the land release program, the less likely it will be for us to have a sufficient supply of housing to meet the demands of the changing demographic of Canberra and the less likely it will be for us to have affordable housing.

There is often an inconsistency in our debate. It is a delicate balance. It is very easy to say that we need to save the bush; at the same time it is very easy to be opposed to proposals for infill and redevelopment in our cities. But if we take up both of those propositions, we will have no greenfields development or redevelopment in the inner city. We will have nowhere for Canberrans to live. The housing stock will diminish, and the quality of the housing stock will deteriorate-not just at the bottom end of the market but right across it. And the impact of that will be that people will have less quality housing and will be paying more for it. Surely that is an economic downside.

Ms Tucker talked about natural treasures being sacrificed to a developer's drive. It is easy to take a position on one side or the other of that debate, and what the minister has called for today is a thorough and thoughtful debate about the whole issue of sustainability. That is not just environmental; it is also social and it is economic. One of the big social and economic issues for this territory is the provision of affordable housing-not just a reasonable entry price, as I keep trying to say, but a reasonable whole-of-life cost of running things. That is how much money you spend on commuting, whether you commute on public transport or by private vehicle.

Ms Tucker has raised some very interesting issues that need to be explored, not just today but on an ongoing basis, in the Assembly. We have touched on the issue of fragmented areas of trees like the ones on Nettlefold Street. That is a hard issue for a member. There is a great push one way or the other: we should save the trees or we should have the development. Which way do we go? The government has tackled a very difficult issue here and, although it is not going to be popular with everyone, it is just about the right solution.

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