Page 4605 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 November 2005

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MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Gentleman, for the question. It is a topical and very important issue, the issue of regional settlement arrangements between the ACT and our neighbour on the pattern of development that should occur within Canberra and the Canberra region and the implications for the supply of water that result from regional planning decisions in the region. It is an issue that has been much negotiated and much discussed over the last year.

The ACT government, the New South Wales government and the commonwealth government have been negotiating agreements. There are two particular agreements but three in toto. The one of most moment, the issue of the supply of water, which was the subject of the agitation expressed in the Canberra Times today, is a regional settlement agreement and a cross-border water agreement. The two are intertwined. This has not been completely understood but has been almost wilfully not understood or misunderstood at times. The two provide a framework for decisions that will be made in Canberra and the region into the future of development.

The ACT government, through the spatial plan, has laid down a blueprint for the future development of the ACT. Through the spatial plan, we have developed, in a strategic and good planning way, the way in which the ACT should develop into the future, consistent with a whole range of aims and philosophies that underpin the Canberra plan and, most particularly, the spatial plan. Where, optimally, should development occur to take account of existing infrastructure and pursuant to our commitment to sustainability and the environment?

At this stage—and this is the issue that continues to be negotiated between New South Wales and the ACT—New South Wales has not completed a similar arrangement or plan. They are working on a Sydney-Canberra corridor plan, which, to that extent, mirrors the work that has been done in the ACT on the spatial plan. The ACT is ahead of New South Wales in relation to planning and the sequence of planning for development within the region. We have completed, within the boundaries of the ACT, detailed spatial planning and have developed a sequence under which planning would be undertaken within the ACT. New South Wales has not done the same.

That is the difficulty we see expressed across the border with competing proposals, particularly at Tralee and Googong. There is enormous frustration among the Tralee proponents, particularly expressed this morning in a quite nonsensical way by Mr Winnel.

At the end of the day, the ACT government will not approve or disapprove Tralee. That is an issue entirely and solely for the New South Wales government. The ACT government will not be approving Tralee. The New South Wales government will be approving Tralee. If Bob Winnel has an issue with a decision not being made by anybody as to whether or not Tralee should proceed, it is with the New South Wales government. The ACT government is not holding up the development of Tralee. That is a matter for the New South Wales government. To express angst, as has been done this morning, toward the ACT government about decisions that have not been taken by New South Wales is incredibly unfair.

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