Page 1953 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 25 June 2008
I now turn to document 2 tabled by Mr Seselja, an ActewAGL summary of the selection process prepared on 10 June 2008. Mr Seselja sought to highlight the statement that the document says that “on 2 May the site was no longer available”. This matter was fully clarified by the chief executive of Actew, Mr Michael Costello, at the estimates hearing on 16 June. At that hearing Mr Costello said that the document was not an LDA document but one prepared by ActewAGL and that what it actually meant was that the site was no longer available as it had been in 2002. He went on to say:
On 6 July, it was not available on the same terms, no. On 6 July, there was a discussion. That discussion was summarised in the Chief Minister’s letter of 19 July. And as a result of that, all sites were available and we considered they were available at that time. And a decision was made and we got a better site than the original site and we are delighted.
It is plain that this matter has already been clarified by both the Chief Minister and Mr Costello, and indeed by Mr Mackay, yet Mr Seselja continues to deliberately distort the picture.
I now turn to document 36 tabled by Mr Seselja, an answer by the Chief Minister to a question on notice from Mr Seselja, where the answers were given in relation to a number of parts of the question that “no further sites were considered”. At that point in the process no further sites were considered because ActewAGL had by then identified their preferred site and needed to move quickly to conduct a range of environmental studies and prepare a development application and preliminary assessment.
It is a matter of record that, prior to that, a number of sites were identified and that ActewAGL selected one. Once that point had been passed, there is no logic in continuing to identify and consider sites. At some point a decision on a preferred site had to be made and it was.
Mr Seselja quoted from a range of documents citing advice from government officers to other government officers or to the Chief Minister. If Mr Seselja were more experienced, he would have realised it is the role of officials to provide advice and raise issues, as the Deputy Minister has said, all of which is appropriately considered.
Mr Seselja has sought to make the point that the issue of industrial land was raised. That is correct; it was. As the Chief Minister said, if industrial land had been sold to ActewAGL, it would be for market value. But, further, in simply seeking to imply that industrial land was taken off the table by the government on value grounds, Mr Seselja ignores the written evidence in document 16, a brief from the Chief Minister’s Department to the Chief Minister, in which officials indicated: “if this site”, that is block 7 section 21 Hume, “becomes the final one offered to ActewAGL, there would be an urgent need to identify other replacement land for release”. It does not say it cannot be done or it will not be done—merely that, if ActewAGL selects that site, alternative industrial sites would need to be identified to meet a critical need. And, in a letter on 19 July attached to this brief, the Chief Minister made it clear that all sites were still available and under active consideration by both parties.