Page 4604 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 November 2005

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Number one amongst the issues is noise. We have said that every time we have spoken on this subject; it is at the heart of the consultation and the scientific and environmental assessment that is, of course, part and parcel of a project such as a dragway. We are talking here about a very noisy pastime. It has always been the case in relation to the proposed development of a dragway that the issue that would determine the possible site and operation of a dragway is the effect of noise and other environmental impacts on the amenity of residents. That is the great difficulty the ACT has.

For years the government has scoured the ACT looking for a potential site where there would be minimal impact on any resident. It is very difficult in a small territory. We have looked long and hard and a whole range of sites has been assessed. Almost the ultimate or final site set on was section 51 of the Majura Valley. It has always been implicit in the assessment of that site that, if the issues around noise simply cannot be accommodated, then of course we would have to look at it. This was never a case of, “Well, damn the environment; damn the environmental laws; damn the environmental regulations; and damn the amenity of the residents of the Majura Valley and North Canberra, we are going to build this dragway here, irrespective of the noise and other environmental impacts.”

MR STEFANIAK: It sounds as if you are making excuses to get out of it.

MR STANHOPE: No. Look, I have not made a decision on this and nor has the government. In fact, the matter is yet to be presented to cabinet for consideration. There is a very active, very thorough community consultation process in place; there has been a rigorous analysis of all the issues in relation to the site and the funding but most particularly in relation to the noise, as you would expect.

The heart of the matter is that the Liberal Party and Brendan Smyth closed down a perfectly good dragway in the Majura Valley because Brendan Smyth was simply not prepared to take up an argument with the commonwealth. Mr Mulcahy, as chief coat-tugger, insists that that is the appropriate way of dealing with the commonwealth. The Richard Mulcahy approach to relationships with the commonwealth is: deferentially bow, tug the coat, brownnose, call but don’t create dissension and do not put a position.

Mr Corbell: It is a conga line.

MR STANHOPE: It is a conga line, yes. And of course Mr Smyth set the standard with the dragway. He closed it down because he simply was not prepared to take up the argument in relation to a dragway with the commonwealth or with other powerful influences.

Water agreement

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Chief Minister. Is the Chief Minister aware of comments in this morning’s Canberra Times about the development of an agreement between New South Wales and the ACT over the supply of water to proposed new developments? What is the status of the water agreement? What does it aim to achieve?

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