Page 2897 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008

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I specifically want to talk tonight about the scaled-down data centre project at Macarthur. I want to make it clear that I am deeply sceptical about the health impact study that is underway. I was present on 16 July at the Tuggeranong Community Council meeting where the HIA steering group briefed the Tuggeranong community about this particular project.

While I have quite a deal of confidence in the people selected to the steering group—and I think they are clearly professional people—they are only as good as the terms of reference that they are given and they can only be as good as the framework within which that assessment itself can be undertaken. And therein lies the problem.

It became abundantly clear under questioning at the community meeting on 16 July that the health impact assessment will rely for a very large part on the air sample tests provided by ActewAGL for the amended proposal for the scaled-down project which, of course, is based on the same samples provided for the major power station proposal. Initially, it was an air sample model which has been deeply discredited. It is a flawed process.

You might recall that that was the air sample testing which indicated that one hour of air sample had been assessed—and that really is one hour against a per annum scale—and compared with air samples taken from different areas to the northern Tuggeranong valley, or the southern Woden Valley for that matter. You might recall that there was no four-seasonal assessment in the modelling that was created.

Then, of course, when you take all of that into consideration, you might recall that there were still 255, I think it was, particles per cubic metre squared—I cannot remember exactly what the formula was now—versus 257, the 257 being the minimum standard. So what it all boils down to is this: the HIA will be undertaken against a deeply flawed plume study, a plume study which was assessing the emissions modelled on the proposal. Given that the government will not undertake to carry out a full EIS and organise an independently audited EIS of the scaled-down data centre proposal, I remain deeply sceptical about the way this whole exercise is being handled. I remain deeply sceptical that the data centre, even with 24 megawatts of emissions, is going to be suitable, being located at Macarthur.

Whilst we on this side of the chamber have always undertaken to have a good look at the amended proposal and let the proposed exercise through and while we have always called for the full EIS, we would be far more confident if that was undertaken. If the government were to move quickly and relocate that away from Macarthur to one of a number of better sites that do exist, then there would be a win, win, win, win here—a win for the business community, for the proponents, for the community and for the ACT’s economy. But, of course, that continues not to be the case. I am really deeply sceptical that this damn thing, even the scaled-down proposal, should continue at Macarthur.

Let us see what happens in the next couple of days anyway. Let us see what the HIA might come back with. But this plume study that they are relying on is flawed. That, therefore, in my view, discredits the entire HIA.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The Assembly adjourned at 5.38 pm.

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