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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1313 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

talked about how our population will grow. The Your Canberra your say document talked about how people wanted to retain the character of Canberra, the open space. As more people grow, we will need more open space to keep these people comfortable, to keep these people in tune with the bush capital that we have come to know and love. If we start cutting it back so much as we try to put more people in we will degrade our social amenity as well as degrading our environment amenity.

I understand that the government had been working with the local Watson community to help address the concerns that they had been raising. It appears that, once again, the government has ignored the concerns of the community and proceeded with its own agenda. The Minister for Planning made a great deal of noise before the last election about protecting open space but, faced in government with community concern on this very issue, has not delivered.

We cannot continue to have the short-sighted view that our ecosystems exist in a static state. Ecological communities are able to regenerate and regrow and our planning system needs to be able to take these ecological needs into account. While it is true that in its present form this particular section of woodland is in a degraded condition, it may be able to recover if given the space and resources to do so. We must look at how that would help promote the future amenity of Canberra.

North Watson, which is on the Federal Highway, is one of the main entrances to Canberra. What better way to start welcoming people to the bush capital than with some fantastic pieces of bushland? That is what will be promoted if we allow an extra buffer region for this space to continue to grow. The buffer region between the current border of Justice Robert Hope Park and the proposed residential development will allow proper management of this community resource.

The third part of Ms Tucker's motion goes to the sustainable management of these grasslands that would form part of the buffer. We debated a similar issue when we looked at development in east O'Malley which, despite failing to gain support in this Assembly, was removed from the land release program on the advice of the Commissioner for the Environment.

We cannot see pockets of land as discrete units. All ecosystems interact with their surrounding areas and degrading their immediate surrounds will have a detrimental effect on the reserve. The current planning proposal put forward by the government and the former government will adversely affect the remnant vegetation and reduce the likelihood that it can be successfully rehabilitated. A government that is dedicated to ecological preservation would be mindful of that. The current government, however, appears quite happy to ignore the environmental concerns in a rush to sell land to raise money.

Going back to what I said at the beginning, we do need to consider the triple bottom line-the social, the economic and the environmental impact of supporting this motion. I believe that supporting this motion as moved by Ms Tucker will have great environmental benefits and also great social benefits. It can have great long-term economic impacts if we recognise that the environment is an important part of our economy; that if we have more people able to breathe the clean air which we get from

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