Page 2940 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 6 August 2008

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We have always said that we would follow the procedure set out in the law. The next step in the assessment of the project will further inform the planning authority as to the impacts of this project on the environment and the community. So in the coming weeks I will be providing the proponent with directions specifying the matters to be included in the EIS. This will require the proponent to engage an independent consultant to prepare the draft EIS. When ACTPLA receives the draft EIS, it will notify the public, and members of the community will have 20 business days to comment on the document. The draft EIS will be made available electronically on CD. It will also be available on the Planning and Land Authority’s website and in hard copy from the Planning and Land Authority offices.

The timing for the completion of the EIS process depends largely on the time taken by the consultant to prepare the EIS, its adequacy and the issues raised by the public during the consultation period. Under the law, a decision must be made on the development application by 26 March 2009 and the EIS process would need to be completed to provide time for the Planning and Land Authority to assess and make a decision on that application. Any public comments received during the notification period will be considered by ACTPLA in its assessment and recommendation.

We have planning law, and we have an independent planning authority for a reason. This is an example of that law and that planning process working. ACTPLA have fully assessed the PA and have informed me under the act that they need more information. Under law, an EIS could not be called for under the act until the PA had been evaluated and reasonable grounds were present for me to call for one. Whilst there are many in this place who would say that an EIS needed to be undertaken earlier, the government has followed the correct process as set out in law, and we are now proceeding to an EIS based on independent advice from our authority rather than for political reasons.

The opposition have demonstrated throughout this process that if they were to form government they would seek to circumvent the planning law and make decisions based on political convenience—Wollongong style. The Stanhope government have always said that the process needs to be followed, and this is exactly what has occurred and what will continue to occur whilst the project is being assessed.

Mr Savery, from the Planning and Land Authority, said today that he would like to see the EIS completed by November. ACTPLA now has until March 2009 to make its final decision. When that final decision is made, the Canberra community can rest assured that the full impact of this project on the environment and their health has been fully investigated by independent experts in this area.

I remind members that in the debates we have had on this matter, on 7 May, 25 June and 27 June, I have consistently said that I would not make a decision to call for an EIS until the planning authority had provided me with that advice. This decision is entirely consistent with what I said on 7 May, 25 June and 27 June, at pages 1489, 1924, 1925 and 2277 of Hansard. (Time expired.)

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