Page 997 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 15 March 2005

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advised that the ACT government has not conducted any environmental reports, but expects to see them during the preliminary assessment process. I learnt that some environmental analysis might have been conducted by the NCA as part of its master planning process.

What catchment management plans or policies are in place that inform and guide development decisions of the ACT government, specifically in regard to the National Zoo and Aquarium and the international arboretum.

MR STANHOPE: The first part of Dr Foskey’s question goes to the National Zoo and Aquarium. It is the case that the ACT government has been working with the proprietors of the National Zoo and Aquarium around the provision of additional land to the zoo. An issue of significance to the existing zoo and to an expansion of the zoo is the potential impact on the catchment, which is actually on the Molonglo. It is an issue of the first order, an issue that we need to be absolutely convinced about in relation to the expansion plans of the zoo.

It is part of the reason why the decision has been drawn out to the extent that it has. The matter has been under consideration by the ACT government for some little time. That was, as much as anything, a consequence of a decision that the government took at an early stage to require a master plan for the proposed expansion. The master plan work that was undertaken by the NCA at the request of the ACT government did involve, to a significant extent, an environmental assessment of the potential impacts that would need to be addressed if the proposal were to proceed.

Yes, there has, through the master plan process, been some environmental work done, some assessment of potential environmental impacts. But, in the context of a decision by the ACT government to proceed with the granting of additional land to the zoo, we at this stage have taken comfort from the environmental investigations undertaken by the NCA through the master plan process. But that is not the end of it. There will now be a preliminary assessment process. Through that process, there will be opportunity for detailed consideration of ongoing potential environmental impacts from the expansion of the zoo on the catchment of that river system. Beyond that, I would need to take additional advice. I will do that, but I am not sure there is anything I can add to my answer at this stage.

Similarly, the international arboretum and gardens is very much at a preliminary planning stage. A future or potential design for the arboretum and gardens is yet to be decided upon. There is an exciting process, part way completed, including a national design competition that has attracted the best landscape and other architects and designers in Australia. There are five short-listed companies involved in the final consideration of an overall design concept for an international arboretum and gardens. That, of course, will have a significant bearing on some of the further consideration that we need to give to the environmental aspects of that particular proposal. There will be a preliminary assessment process to consider in detail environmental issues, in particular the catchment implications that Dr Foskey raised.

DR FOSKEY: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, could you advise me of the outcome of the meeting about other conditions, including water access, which, according to the article, would have occurred early in February between you and the zoo director?

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