Page 1541 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008

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The second paragraph of Mr Barr’s amendment asks that the assessment “is undertaken in consultation with the Canberra community”. Well, this one almost was not, so that was the concern. The third paragraph asks that it “abides by all relevant environmental rules and standards”. This, of course, is at the heart of many of the concerns raised by the community. I think probably the community do not even know what the relevant environmental rules and standards are. This is why the information has to be out there. It is so important. It has to be accessible to people so that they know what rules and standards are being applied.

It does concern me that the amendment put by the minister leaves out the health aspects. There are real concerns about the health aspects in the Tuggeranong Valley, which I spoke about at some length. It does not talk about a rigorous examination for potential noise impact. Perhaps that is covered by environmental rules and standards, but it is not necessarily the case. With various projects we need to perhaps look at whether the relevant environmental rules and standards cover all the issues that are related to that particular development, a gas-fired station—not something that our environmental rules were written with in mind. Our environmental rules and standards do not usually consider the development of power plants, whether they be gas or coal. In a way, it is a great relief that we do not have coal, because I am concerned that we might be mining it or trucking it here to use for a power plant. But I do not think we can really spruik the environmental benefits of this power plant just because it is gas rather than coal.

I have asked for a cost-benefit analysis of renewable energy alternatives. I think it is time we started doing that. If we took a climate change perspective on our major projects, this would be one of the bars that had to be reached if projects were to go ahead. We need to look at all the alternatives of powering them. I do not know why the ActewAGL officials were so excited about solar power powering the data centre. What has happened to that? Where is the assessment that says: “We won’t do that. We’ll do this instead”? These are the kinds of things that need to be on the public record.

With respect to the consideration of the social implications of the Planning and Land Authority’s industrial corridor, yes, I did get that wrong, and thanks very much for informing me of that. I regret that, because I was away during the time that this issue blew up, I do not really feel as well informed as I could be, and I thank you for bringing me up to date today. I was not able to find those documents that I had access to last year about the ACTPLA study.

It is important that all reports are released publicly. The most important thing raised by the Fadden and Macarthur residents is that they feel that they were not dealt with by the government through a comprehensive and respectful community engagement process. This may be just a perception, but, if it is how people feel—and if we are talking about the community and an engagement process that brings them in, makes them partners—even if they are wrong, and I do not think they are, their views need to be taken into account.

I have no quarrels with the role of ACTPLA. I understand that they are not the proponents. I look forward to seeing the results of the eastern broadacre study,

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