Page 4603 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 November 2005

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MR STANHOPE: It was the culmination of the campaign against the Labor Party on the dragway but it was with that final flourish—that $200,000 electronic campaign at the end: “Vote as if your life depends on it,”—that the people of Canberra for once sat up and took notice and thought, “By crikey; we will.” They did; and they will be forever grateful for the fact that they did.

The consultation process for a dragway in Majura has been exhaustive. It is chaired by Geoff Cammock, a long-time dragway proponent and one of the original investors in the dragway that then existed—the dragway closed down by the Liberal Party when they were in government, in complicity with the federal Liberal Party. We need never forget that the ACT had a dragway. I think it was Brendan Smyth, the then Minister for Planning, who closed it down.

Never ever forget this fact: there was an operating dragway in the ACT until Brendan Smyth could not take up an argument with the federal government. This is a classic example that I could have used yesterday in the coat-tugging debate we had, where the Liberals stood up in sequence to see who could be the biggest coat-tugger, the biggest brownnoser, the greatest sycophant and the biggest crawler in the place. Brendan Smyth, as Minister for Planning, in discussions with the commonwealth about the continued existence of a dragway in the Majura Valley, thought, “Well, I’m not going to argue with the commonwealth over the existence of a dragway in the ACT; we will definitely close it down—and he did.

MR SPEAKER: The member’s time has expired.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question.

MR SPEAKER: No preamble!

MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I note that that was a complete non-answer. Minister, will the government ditch this election promise because of the poor condition of the ACT’s finances?

MR STANHOPE: The consultation process in relation to a replacement dragway in the Majura Valley—a dragway to replace that which Brendan Smyth closed down when he was Minister for Planning because he simply could not take up an argument with the commonwealth—has proceeded under the direction and chairmanship of Geoff Cammock, the Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Agricultural Society and noted dragway enthusiast, who was indeed one of the original owners of the dragway that Brendan Smyth closed down. The consultative committee for the dragway has among its membership the president of the North Canberra Community Council and the president of the Hackett Residents Association. They have been very content with the degree of consultation and involvement of the North Canberra community.

There is a range of very significant, difficult and problematic issues in relation to the development and running of a dragway, most particularly, of course, noise. At every step of this process the consultative committee and indeed the government officials who are working on this project have said that. I have said continually and consistently through this process that there are issues that need to be resolved which we are working through.

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