Page 324 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 December 2008

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Quite frankly, on this one that I mentioned about the suggestion that the government should put itself in a position of a significant conflict of interest as between the government and the statutory planning approver, ACTPLA, in relation to proselytising for a particular proposal, I think I can say clearly that I do not believe there is a single senior ACT official—and I include in that the head of the Chief Minister’s Department, the head of the strategic projects group, Mr Dawes, the head of ACTPLA, the head of the LDA, or indeed the head of any ACT government agency or section, that believes the suggestion by the Auditor-General that the government should become the spokesperson for a proponent is sensible or wise. There is not a single senior official within the ACT public service who supports that proposal. When you have got your entire public service suggesting—

Mrs Dunne: That’s a pretty comprehensive poisoning of the waterhole, isn’t it, Jon?

MR STANHOPE: Well, I think it is interesting. I have enormous regard for Andrew Cappie-Wood, enormous regard for Neil Savery, enormous regard for David Dawes, enormous regard for John Robertson. Each of them has suggested that they believe that this suggestion or proposal by the Auditor-General is wrongheaded, and I take seriously that. But it is in that context and in that environment that I look forward to meeting with the Auditor-General. It may be that she can assuage all of our concerns in relation to some aspects of her report and I look forward to engaging with her in a genuine spirit of seeking to understand the nature of her concerns.

Gas-fired power station and data centre

MR HANSON: My question is to the Chief Minister. I refer to the Auditor-General’s report on a proposal for a gas-fired power station and data centre. The Auditor-General found:

The Government did not have sufficient information on the Canberra Technology City proposal prior to lending strong support to it and committing to an option for a direct land sale.

Chief Minister, why did the government commit to an option for a direct land sale without having sufficient information?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the member for his question. It is one of the other issues that I must say we look forward to exploring with the Auditor-General. I have to say that when one goes through the processes, it is quite interesting. The options presented for the government were an option over a piece of land that could be explored by a proponent for a significant development; a direct sale of that land to the proponent in advance of the lodging of the development application. These are the options that I assume the Auditor-General considered. If you go through this logically, what were the options presented to government? To provide an option to auction the land, to actually excise the land, to actually place an advertisement in the Canberra Times saying “Auction—17 hectares of land for sale, broadacre, lodge your development application in relation to broadacre, take your chances, direct sale”—

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think the answer is not directly relevant to the question, which was why did the government go down a particular path

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