Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3631 ..
transport system. This is despite the unarguably high quality and sustainable buildings that Tom Snow has placed there. I note the airport’s positive commitments to sustainable building design, but I find no reference to mandatory standards for future development. We have just been lucky that we have had Tom Snow there who is personally committed to it. The Brand Depot buildings fall way short of environmental best practice. We have no reasons, apart from statements in the master plan, to believe that future development will not be similarly deficient, and the ACT government has no control over this.
Building shops and recreation activities at the airport for the sake of workers who are trapped there by their work is back-to-front development. The airport developments do not need the approval of the National Capital Authority. The privatisation of airports and the land around them has proved to be a profit-making boon for entities like CIC and Macquarie Bank at our expense. Here we are putting taxpayers’ money into a road so that air travellers and commuters can get out of the traffic jam produced by the airport development. I hope that the Rudd government introduces measures to ensure that airports comply with local planning regimes. This issue has been raised nationally by the Local Government Association, among others.
Other issues of concern include heritage, grassland protection and sustainability. The Fairbairn, or north-east precinct of the Canberra airport, is heritage listed with the National Trust, and damage and demolition from development by the Canberra International Airport is listed as a threat. This is exacerbated by lack of planning controls. The airport’s natural temperate grassland is a significant area of habitat for the endangered eastern earless dragon and the golden sun moth. The planned road to the north of the airport will cut straight through this.
I would like to know if the ACT government is talking with the transport department and the NCA about a process to pull the airport back into the local planning framework. I would like to hear whether Mr Stanhope is committed to maintaining an aircraft-noise-free sleep time for Canberra residents. I think Canberra residents would like to know this, too, and what do Mr Seselja and his folk think?
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.13): I thank Dr Foskey for raising this matter of public importance today. The government acknowledges the importance of the airport to the ACT and to our regional economy. This is outlined in the ACT economic white paper of 2003. The airport provides significant employment through the businesses that are based there and through the large amount of construction activity that has occurred in recent years and that is foreshadowed over the coming years. It also offers key national transport connections, a business park, general aviation facilities and important defence and security facilities. It plays a key role as the major gateway to the capital region.
The airport’s $250 million investment plans will help ensure that Canberra remains an attractive place for business investment and for tourism. This investment, along with that of Qantas, is a strong vote of confidence in the ACT economy, recognising not only the tourism potential of this region, but also that business activity in the ACT will only continue to strengthen in the future.