Page 1753 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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I will agree with Mr Quinlan on one thing: where is the tunnel? I have to say that I raised the concept of a tunnel with Mr Snow and Colin Stewart when they briefed me. They had some arguments against the concept of a tunnel. I would personally like to see through traffic and city traffic separated. We raised the concept of a tunnel back in 1999-2000. We raised the concept of land bridges over Parkes Way. We talked about many things that perhaps were right in the context then. But I do not think they are right now, and maybe we should have had more courage in those days to say, “Let us put the tunnel under City Hill.” The quotes then were somewhere between $30 million and $60 million, which at that stage was money we could not afford. But, in the context of the time, if we really are going to build a cosmopolitan city heart, perhaps all of those things need to be on the table. That is what Mr Seselja is asking for today. Let us get these things on the table. Instead, Mr Corbell was dismissive of Mr Snow’s living city proposal, simply because he is rich and potentially influential, for which you can read: “will undermine my authority as planning minister”. That is what Mr Corbell’s objection is about.

Dr Foskey asked, “Well, what about Belconnen?” It was a good question: what about Belconnen? For Belconnen, Gungahlin, Woden, Weston and Tuggeranong town centres to be successful, you have to have a successful city heart. It is not called the city heart for nothing—the CBD, the central business district. It is the point at the centre of the equation. The other town centres in the hierarchy, in a well-accepted and logical hierarchy, hang off that. If the city heart is dead, if the centre of the city is dead, you will kill the rest of the city. That is a summary of what the OECD said, and I think most people accept that. So, in answer to Dr Foskey, yes, we have got to do the work in Belconnen and Tuggeranong and all the other town centres; but at the same time—and perhaps most importantly—we have got to get the city right.

Mr Corbell, in his normal way, said, that I, apparently, am in favour of the city heart levy. I have never been in favour of the city heart levy. I do not believe we should have additional levies in this regard. There he is again misrepresenting things, and I think we need to remind members that on 24 June 2004 the Assembly passed the following censure motion of the minister:

That the Assembly expresses a lack of confidence in the Minister for Health and Planning for persistently and wilfully misleading the Assembly on a number of issues.

I would like to say that there are no divisions in the Liberal Party on city heart. We do not believe businesses should be paying more money for the services they should already be getting. We have been consistent in our approach. But this does highlight—and perhaps this is the minister’s defence—and raise the issue of divisions in the cabinet and whether or not the Corbell plan has any endorsement. Apparently, it is not cabinet approved. He mentioned the other day that he spoke to the Chief Minister about it and he thought it was okay to go out and talk about it. Well, is it part of government policy or not? Is this what the government puts forward as its view, or is it not? When a minister makes a statement, the ordinary person out there would believe that that is the position of the government. I suspect the majority of people in the ACT believe that the official government position is Mr Corbell’s plans and that, therefore, his attacks on Mr Snow, saying he should not be rich, he should not be influential, are about protecting his plan and his view—which most people would now say is inadequate.

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