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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3253 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

site? Did Brendan Smyth, Bill Stefaniak and Vicki Dunne, when she was advising Gary Humphries as Treasurer at the time, say, "No, better not do it; this is a very symbolic and important site; better not do it"? No, they did not, Mr Speaker.

There was Vicki Dunne, senior adviser to the Treasurer of the day, the minister responsible, looking at the land release program; and what did she say in defence of that site? She didn't do a single thing, Mr Speaker.

Mrs Dunne: We didn't know about the trees.

MR CORBELL: Bill Stefaniak did not do a single thing. Brendan Smyth did not do a single thing. Now they stand up in this place and profess this almighty sense of feeling about this block of land, Mr Speaker.

Either you have confidence in the processes of the land act, the Territory Plan and the land release program or you do not. Either you have confidence in the Territory Plan process, the land release process, the tree assessment process or you do not. The fact is, Mr Speaker, they did at the time, but they don't now.

Mr Speaker, what's changed? Mrs Dunne puts up some spurious comment: "We didn't know about the trees."What didn't you know about the trees, Mrs Dunne? Stand up here in this place and tell us what you know about the trees now that you didn't back then; stand up and tell me and tell this chamber what you know about the trees now that you didn't when the site was sold, because I'm about to go through and tell you very clearly what process was used in looking at the trees on this site by your government.

The site was sold on 22 March 2001. It's not as though the Liberal Party wasn't aware that there was an election coming up. They sold the site. It is a commercial site, the land is designated on the Territory Plan as commercial land, Mr Speaker.

The Territory Plan has been in existence for over 10 years. The site has been designated for this purpose for that length of time. In all of that time, didn't it occur to them that the site was eventually going to be released? That was what the commercial land use policy was, Mr Speaker. It's interesting too, Mr Speaker, that the Greens and the Democrats at the time didn't pay attention to that fact either.

Mr Speaker, the site was sold for $536,000, following a thorough assessment of the trees on the site against the tree protection legislation-the tree protection legislation which had not yet been enacted by this place but which the previous government knew was about to be enacted by this place. The previous government chose to apply legislation that was not yet in effect against this site. That found, quite clearly, Mr Speaker, that there were a total of 21 remnant trees on the site, 11 of which were required to be retained-mandatory retention of over 50 per cent.

Following the lodgement of a DA, the site was again assessed against the tree protection legislation. It didn't just have tree protection legislation run over it once; it had tree protection run over it twice, Mr Speaker. What changed? Following the lodgement, that's what occurred. These trees were considered worthy and suitable for retention, and they were retained.

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