Page 3486 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008

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growing and ageing population. There is the “live in Canberra” irony. While this government are busy flying around the world promoting Canberra and trying hard to attract people to live and work in Canberra, they have forgotten to invest in and improve the city that they are trying to grow. I wonder if they put school closures in their overseas brochures or if they talk up their poor public transport system, the second worst in Australia; the ageing and increasingly clogged road network; or their poor management of the taxi industry. Our new arrivals will be stuck at the airport. They will not be able to find a cab. If our new arrivals do find a cab, how will they be able to afford the cab fare, when Mr Stanhope has failed to address the issue of affordable housing in the city? Our new arrivals will be catching a cab to Queanbeyan because they will not be able to afford to live in Canberra.

This is the government that have a plan to close schools but no plan on how to efficiently move more students to fewer schools. Again, we see that they lied to the community before the 2004 election about school closures. That is infrastructure planning; that is ramming it beneath the radar.

That brings me to the next point: the power station and the data centre fiascos. We on this side of politics like catchphrases such as “diversifying our economic base”, “economic growth” and “increasing private sector jobs”. Indeed, our party is the champion of these causes. In fact, we are businesses’ best friend in Australia. However—unlike your mob, Chief Minister—we are also particularly fond of the concepts of community consultation, community engagement, social impact, environmental impact and the idea that planning in our territory can be done according to principles of sustainable development. One could be excused for thinking that this principle would cover developments that could potentially compromise the health and wellbeing of the community. We all know which project I am referring to now, don’t we? That is right; I refer to the project—much criticised for the flawed process followed by the government, in which they have made a humungous backflip—whereby the government led a transnational consortium up the garden path, giving blind and implicit support to build a 210-megawatt power station of 21 hectares in people’s backyards.

The government, through their poor management, managed to lose a billion dollars—and that is off the plan, I might add—to the ACT economy, for no other reason than their own incompetence to deliver significant projects to the ACT and their inability to appropriately plan for the future of our great city. This is a great city in the hands of an incompetent government. We see those passion fingers everywhere, destroying all the opportunities that our community deserves to enjoy and exercise.

On the matter of the humungous backflip, every Canberran and their dog told the government months ago that nothing less than a full and independent EIS would have to be submitted with the development application—the full application and even the scaled-down application. Yet Chairman Jon and Minister Barr have crowed all day about the virtue of the so-called statutory processes. They have even dared to suggest that we on this side are hell-bent on circumventing this statutory process. We are not; we respect the process and we will chase it right down, all the way through. Their own argument is absolutely flawed. If they think that they can hide behind a statutory process to disguise the fact that they sought to ram a project through against the community’s wishes and interests, it would suggest that the process is inherently deficient with regard to safeguards for the community.

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