Page 4447 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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behalf of the people of the territory, on behalf of the Assembly, government action. If we fail to do that, if we rubber-stamp things, as we have seen today, as we have seen in the past, then we are failing as a committee, and the committee system will be the sham that I fear it is becoming.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (5.29): Mr Seselja has demonstrated his commitment, or lack thereof, to the committee process here today. He seems to object to a responsible, economic and environmentally balanced compromise that encourages the redrawing of the boundaries back towards Horse Park Drive but still aims to maximise the land available in east Gungahlin for residential development. He complains about not enough time to carefully consider the matter. For six months we have been discussing this matter. I encourage you to engage in the process a little more in future, Mr Seselja. That trip you had to the site was not just a little jaunt in the countryside, you know.

The committee structure here is an important element of the non-executive members’ role, and it deserves the commitment of all members. You claim you have not had enough time to read the report. That is evident from your ill-advised dissenting comments. You claim you have had enough time, though, to read and make comments. I do not think both things fit together, in my mind anyway. You cannot have it both ways. I know that I received the report on Friday. I do not know what you do on the weekend, Mr Seselja, but a lot of my weekend is spent working.

I fully endorse the comments of Mr Gentleman. The committee has spent a number of months and numerous meetings considering the implication of draft variation 231 for Canberra’s structural, financial and natural environments. This is essentially the challenge we had before us: to balance the important economic and growth considerations which are inevitably associated with expansion or development, with a responsibility to protect the natural environment for the enjoyment of all Canberrans, both in the present and long term. The report which Mr Gentleman has today presented to the Assembly on behalf of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment has achieved that balance.

While noting the general downturn in housing demand means that the urgency of expansion in the east Gungahlin area had diminished slightly, the committee felt that there was no need to forgo environmental growth, protection and longevity in the area in order to ensure quick development. We, instead, believed that a careful process of consideration was needed and that a balanced solution should be sought. Mr Gentleman has outlined the recommendations which have emanated from our committee discussions, and I am sure most in this place would agree that they reflect this intended balance.

In my opinion, there is no more important recommendation in the long term than the suggestion to establish an overarching reporting system in a similar fashion to the New South Wales State of the parks report. As Mr Gentleman indicated, there is a particular need to monitor our progress towards environmental sustainability and conservation. It is my hope that an ACT State of the parks report would allow us to collectively monitor the effectiveness of programs that have previously been implemented.

Getting back to the report in hand, the committee noted the existing problems associated with the predatory nature of domestic cats and, subsequently, has recommended the

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