Page 1931 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 25 June 2008
When did the Chief Minister talk to Ms Gallagher in her capacity as minister for disability services? During the estimates hearings into disability services, Ms Gallagher said for the first time that she had been given advice that the respite centre at Symonston for severely disabled men “would have to move if the project went ahead”. This is a facility on which the government has just spent $1.6 million refurbishing. It emerges that the respite centre is the closest neighbour to the power station.
A departmental official from disability services said that the Land Development Agency had advised them as part of the DA process. Another department official said that they had become aware of the need to address this issue of the respite centre’s proximity to the project “through the press and through informal discussions” and only after the DA had been lodged in February and the environmental assessment had started.
What a bungled mess this all is. These admissions are staggering. This further highlights the Chief Minister’s absolute and total mismanagement of this major project and his failure to keep his ministers properly informed in a timely manner.
Ms Gallagher said on radio that ACT Health “has not raised any specific concerns” about the health impact of the proposed gas-fired power station. One wonders what her definition of specific is. Have they raised generalised concerns about the impact of nitrogen, one would wonder. What she did say was not calculated to instil any confidence in Tuggeranong residents or anyone else. She told the ABC on 17 June:
I know the first advice I got about this proposal late last year was that ACT Health was quite excited about it—
that was the gas-fired power station—
because it certainly bolstered our preparedness in case of an actual disaster. So, that is a positive health impact.
In the topsy-turvy world of ACT Realpolitik Labor style, the health minister says that there are no specific concerns about the health impact of the gas-fired power station but that we should be pleased that ACT Health is improving its preparedness for—what?—a potential disaster.
As John Thisleton wrote in the Canberra Times, this project has been “beset by indecision and intrigue”. The only information forthcoming has been belated and partial and has only come about because the community rose up against the proposal.
In response to public uproar, we now learn that there will be a very hasty examination by an expert committee of potential health issues of the now scaled-down version of the power station project, to report after a month. Can anyone really have any confidence in such a hastily thrown together inquiry? This is the cynical, knee-jerk act of a cynical government.
What should have been a great opportunity for Canberra has been squandered by this government and a $2 billion investment has now been halved. Greed has guided the