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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1304 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

how we design our developments in terms of fire sensitivity, that we are seeing this rather stubborn approach from the government.

Naturally, there is a cost associated with increasing the buffer. The reason that Purdon and Associates was not prepared to recommend a wider buffer and include some of the native grassland in north Watson was that it would mean a loss of income which they believed the government would find unacceptable. I would like the minister to prove them wrong on that by acknowledging the soundness of the arguments and indicating the government's preparedness to forgo the amount of land sales revenue involved for the sake of preserving a more complete and representative grassy woodland and to show that they are acting in good faith with the statements they have made about the need to be careful about development and fire risk.

I believe that increasing the buffer would amount to forgoing a row of about 12 housing blocks. I would argue that this is a small price to pay for the retention of a now rare piece of lowland woodland and adjoining grassland. In considering the cost, we should also remember that the new opportunities for the use of burnt-out pine forest relatively close to the centre of Canberra could mean a significant change in the supply of residential land in the ACT and offer alternative sources of high value land sales revenue. This should be taken into account when we are considering the revenue that would be forgone as a result of agreeing to this motion.

As shadow minister in opposition, Mr Corbell moved a motion to protect this woodland by designating it as urban open space, which he later did in government. In his speech to that motion, he said:

I ask Assembly members this morning to consider this site as part of an endangered ecological community. Degraded understorey, yes, but nevertheless an endangered forest type of which only 5 per cent remains of the pre-European existing coverage ... Our decision in relation to Watson recognises that degraded understorey can be restored and that we can work to better protect those areas of endangered forest types.

I couldn't have said it better. It is interesting that Mr Corbell put that motion in this place rather than me. The community was very pleased about that because they were so nervous that if Labor got into government they would back down on that. Mr Corbell made those statements. The very same statements I am making tonight were made by Simon Corbell.

Why is it that the government is choosing to turn around on this? It is really unnecessary, particularly, as I said, because of what has happened in the last three months in Canberra with the fires. As I said, I absolutely agree with what Mr Corbell said. This is the sort of spirit that we would like to see shown by the minister and it is that sort of working better to protect these areas that we are asking for in urging the government to increase this buffer area to an appropriate size. This is a rare opportunity to complete a piece of remnant woodland. Not to include such an appropriate buffer would be an opportunity lost forever.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Minister for Police and

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