Page 3468 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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MRS BURKE: My question is directed to the Chief Minister. There are no commonwealth government impediments, including from the NCA, affecting the rebuilding of the public housing properties burnt down at Pierces Creek as a result of the 2003 bushfires. What are the impediments at the territory government level?

MR STANHOPE: As I think all members are aware, the ACT government has been vigorously pursuing the possibility of rebuilding all three of the rural villages so severely impacted by the 2003 fire. Immediately post the fire, I commissioned a study of the ACT’s non-urban areas and of all the infrastructure destroyed outside the urban area, including specific studies in relation to the three villages of Stromlo, Uriarra and Pierces Creek. We were determined to do all that we reasonably could to ensure that we could replace the homes destroyed and seek to recreate the communities so severely affected at Stromlo, Uriarra and Pierces Creek.

Members are aware of the detailed work—which I can paraphrase as “sustainability studies”—undertaken by the shaping our territory group in relation to each of the villages. Quite rightly and appropriately, the issues looked at went to the sustainability—the future, the creation—of genuine communities, in the real sense of the word, in each of those places, a fundamental recommendation relating to all aspects of sustainability, not just sustainability in an environmental sense, not just cost benefit, but sustainability in the sense of creating sustainable communities; communities that would endure, and have a heart and a future.

The upshot of that was a recommendation that at Stromlo we should restore a village of 40 houses, at least; that at Uriarra we should seek to create a village of a minimum of 100 houses; and at Pierces Creek we should seek to create a village of 50 houses, to meet all of the sustainability criteria that were a feature of that detailed work across a range of disciplines undertaken in relation to each of those places.

After some fairly rugged negotiation, the commonwealth, through the NCA, agreed to the ACT government’s position in relation to Stromlo. I am thankful and grateful for the support of the NCA in relation to that. We are in the process of creating a village of 40 homes at Stromlo. We are continuing to negotiate with the commonwealth about issues of land ownership and the boundary of land. We have gone to second-stage tender in relation to the Stromlo village. I am hopeful of work commencing there in the near, rather than in the medium or distant, future.

Similarly, in relation to Uriarra, as a result of detailed negotiation and consultation with the commonwealth—at the heart of which were the sustainability studies that the ACT government had received from the shaping our territory group—sustainability studies recommended the establishment of a village of 100. On the basis and the strength of the representations made, supported by the detailed sustainability work undertaken, the commonwealth, through the NCA, has agreed to the development of a village of 100 homes at Uriarra—an increase from 24 to 100.

Yet, in relation to Pierces Creek—a village of 13 homes, a village in relation to which issues around the territory plan, the status of the land and our capacity to rebuild, the

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