Page 3470 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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reasonable and sustainable outcomes in relation to each of the villages. That, of course, is our hope and our continuing hope in relation to Pierces Creek.

However, as I explained yesterday, the commonwealth might stand and bluntly state—without explanation and without the provision of the advice or even the detail of the advice—that there is no legal impediment, and Mrs Burke takes this as a given. Mind you, it is a half-page report that took 13 months to deliver: two pages of background, two-thirds of a page of a report and a response. This took 13 months to write—one month per line. One month per line, it took the commonwealth to prepare this report. One month per line of response. The commonwealth says, “There is no legal impediment”, and Mrs Burke accepts it as a given. Well I do not. There is no explanation of the legal advice—the detail of it, its content—and it will not provide the legal advice itself.

As I have explained time and again, I just happen to have a contrary opinion. I have a view, an opinion, supported by my officials, on the basis of the territory plan as it stands and the categorisation of the land at Pierces Creek. It simply is not a case of ACT Housing and ACTPLA rolling up at the site of Pierces Creek and finding a place to plonk the houses, because the land is designated as land for forestry purposes. We do not have a need at Pierces Creek for a forest settlement.

Mrs Burke: Now we’re getting to the truth.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mrs Burke.

MR STANHOPE: The land is designated for forestry purposes. We do not have a forestry purpose at Pierces Creek any longer. It is an historical position. The village was constructed for the purposes of forest operations. There is no longer a forest. There is no longer a need for a settlement or a depot. It was a settlement built around a forestry depot. We no longer have a forestry depot at Pierces Creek. We no longer have a forest at Pierces Creek. We no longer have forestry purposes at Pierces Creek.

My advice is that, in the absence of legitimate, designated forestry purposes, ACTPLA would not find itself able to agree to a development application to build forestry houses on land designated for forestry purposes when it is a simple fiction. That is my advice, and that is one of the difficulties.

But it is not the only difficulty in relation to this. The ACT government has a position—endorsed through cabinet—and I am not changing that position without returning to cabinet. I am not changing that position without detailed advice from my officials around all the implications, for instance, of building a 13-house village at Pierces Creek. I need to know all of the implications of returning 13 public houses to Pierces Creek.

I will not just say, “Let’s just forget about the detail. Let’s forget about all of the issues, the implications, including issues around sustainability, a genuine village, cost, infrastructure, bushfire hazard, preparedness and capacity to protect the village in the future.” These are serious, genuine issues. I need to look again at our capacity to provide the relevant infrastructure and protections for a village of 13 houses in an exposed and isolated place in an area devastated by bushfires three years ago.

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