Page 2261 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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ACT Labor supports a process whereby the National Capital Authority is slashed significantly, by around 40 per cent in terms of job numbers. Forty per cent of NCA jobs have been slashed without the review happening. It is said that it is because of overlap, whereas everyone who has any idea about how the NCA operates and how planning in the ACT operates knows that overlap would account for a tiny number of positions. The only way to get to the bottom of that would be to do the review first and to look at where the NCA’s authority should end and where the ACT government should take over.

I am certainly on the record as saying that I think we can look at changes to how that operates. I think the NCA have a very important role in looking after the national aspects of Canberra. I think that occasionally in the past they have overreached. But we should not use the odd overlap or the odd area where the NCA did not need to be involved and was involved as an excuse to slash an agency which provides a wonderful service to the people of Canberra in a number of ways. It provides a wonderful service to the nation. When we look even at things like events management and some of the promotions of Canberra, it provides real benefits in tourism and even just to the fabric of our community. I, along with thousands of other Canberrans, have on numerous occasions attended events hosted by the NCA, and many of these events will go as a result of these cutbacks.

In terms of the planning system in the ACT, the minister at some stage is going to have to outline to us how he is going to pick up the slack—how the ACT government will pick up the slack with respect to the cutbacks. We have heard how they are going to take on some of the jobs. We need to know how much that will cost us and what extra functions we will be taking on as a result of the NCA cutting back its functions, or whether a number of these things will just be lost. I will come back to this, but I will speak again after I have heard from the minister.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.33): There are a few key projects which are good indicators of the directions that ACTPLA and the ACT government are taking, and in this context I will inevitably focus on areas of concern. First, ACTPLA appears committed to putting another dam or lake on the Lower Molonglo. I know that decision has not been made, but in my most recent briefing it was obvious it was still ACTPLA’s preferred option.

While such an approach would be supported by some engineers looking at stormwater management, and presumably by the LDA and Treasury, given the increased property value that is expected to come with waterfront and water view properties, it is not consistent with any thoughtful environmental impact assessment. The Molonglo River is the second largest river system in the ACT. It is already severely compromised by Scrivener Dam, the establishment—and later destruction by fire—of pine plantations and many decades of grazing activity. The addition of another dam downstream cannot be justified environmentally and its enhancement of property values may be overrated in the light of current knowledge of biodiversity impacts and climate change considerations.

I am sure that many Canberra people are unaware of the potential loss of the areas that they enjoy above and below Coppins Crossing. BIOSIS Research, in its 2006

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