Page 2277 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008
time. They made their case to Mr Uren, who was the minister in 1983, prior to self-government. That, in their handwriting, was the basis of the occupancy of that particular block.
It is not a particularly pleasant situation, and I understand the distress it would undoubtedly have caused, but we have legal processes and the government was simply following those processes. In the case of the Molonglo Valley, the occupants of that particular cottage were not the only people who were asked to vacate the land to make it available for the future needs of our city. That is a fact of life under our leasehold system, but in this particular instance, in the absence of any legal basis for occupancy of the property—and the letter itself indicates how the Farrells came to be in the house in the first instance—I think it really does clarify the matter for everyone’s benefit.
Finally, I need to respond to the claims that Dr Foskey has made in relation to the former land act, most particularly the question of whether a minister can call for an EIS and actually direct that one occur. Dr Foskey and I have discussed this at some length. It would appear that there is a clear disagreement over interpretation, but it is worth noting that the act does suggest that the relevant minister may direct that an assessment be made of a proposal if, in the opinion of the relevant minister, based on reasonable grounds, an environmental impact of the proposal would be of sufficient significance. It goes on to say that, in making a decision under that subsection, the relevant minister must consider the preliminary assessment and have reasonable grounds. To do so in advance of an assessment of a preliminary assessment I think in any other context would have those opposite and Dr Foskey howling that the minister of the day, regardless of whether it is me or someone else, had not sought the views of experts in relation to the preliminary assessment.
The situation remains as I have indicated throughout this process. The appropriate time to make a determination on that matter is following an assessment of the preliminary assessment. That would then potentially give the minister of the day the reasonable grounds on which to ask for a full environmental impact statement. To do so in advance of that would, in my view, expose the minister of the day to the charge of being in breach of the act.
We can agree to disagree on interpretations, and ultimately lawyers will argue this in courts, but my view—and it remains my view as the relevant minister—is that I will not be calling for an environmental impact statement in advance of the Planning and Land Authority’s assessment of the preliminary assessment. Dr Foskey is welcome to make an assertion that she believes that assessment is sufficient, but that would not be reasonable grounds that the minister of the day would need under the act to call for an EIS.
A view from the Greens, a view from Dr Foskey, as learned as it might be, that the PA is deficient is not reasonable grounds. With the greatest respect to the Greens and to the Liberal opposition, I do not think anyone would seriously argue that the view of another political party would constitute reasonable grounds. I repeat the position that I have put consistently through this debate—that the appropriate time to consider this matter of an EIS is once the Planning and Land Authority has completed its assessment of the preliminary assessment.