Page 3181 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 19 August 2008

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through that, cast aspersions upon some of the consultant reports that both the National Capital Authority and, it seems, ACTPLA had used.

One of the contentious reports that there seems to be some dispute about between the National Capital Authority and ACTPLA has not been made available to the committee. I hope that there were not stalling tactics on behalf of ACTPLA to prevent us from receiving those. We asked the National Capital Authority for a copy of the nghenvironmental consultants’ report. They said that this was a jointly funded process so we would have to get ACTPLA’s approval for it. ACTPLA has subsequently had an unseemly stoush, saying, “We did not have anything to do with it so we do not care what happens to it.” But when you actually ask ACTPLA to agree to release it, that does not happen. Therefore, the committee has not received a copy of the report that it asked for probably some six or eight weeks ago.

There were some other interesting process issues in relation to this variation. The proposed lake is quite contentious. It is on a lot of the maps, but when we drilled down into it we had officials from ACTPLA saying, “That is only an option and that is for decision later down the path.” It was interesting to note the public media comment from one of the consultants, Dr Stephen Debus, from the University of New England, who had done a bird study—a raptor study—for this draft variation and who, it turns out, had not been told of the possibility of the damming of the Molonglo River and the creation of a lake along the Molonglo River corridor. He thought he would have had things to say about the possibility of the inundation of peregrine falcon nesting sites if he had known about it. It seems that it is not fair to consultants that they are given a job and they are not given all the information.

Another thing that was interesting was that Dr Debus did say that he thought that he had been selectively quoted in the PA and that his report had much more to say than was brought out in the PA. That is something that we have to be very careful with. When we as a government instrumentality commission consultant reports—specialist reports—we should not be going forum shopping, looking for the good bits and not worrying about the rest. They should be out there and they should be published.

It was difficult that they did not come automatically with the consultants’ reports. The consultants’ reports were provided to us on request, but it is important that these consultant reports are made available so that the community can make their assessments of them as well.

It was interesting to note the evidence of some of the bird groups, including that of Mr Davey, the President of the Canberra Ornithologists Group, and the statements of Dr Debus—not at the committee hearing, but in the public media—about the inadequacy of the bird studies. Dr Debus said that he was commissioned to walk around the area for a week and take note of nesting sites. The Canberra Ornithologists Group says that the bird surveys that were done in preparation for this are not adequate. As a result of this, the planning and environment committee has made a recommendation that there should be a full year, four-season survey of birds in the area. That needs to be done as a matter of priority.

There are also process issues about the operation of the planning and environment committee. As someone who has been a great supporter of the planning and

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