Page 325 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 December 2008

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without having sufficient information. It is really about the information, not the path it went down.

MR SPEAKER: I reject the point of order, Mrs Dunne. Mr Stanhope, please continue.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. This is the issue and the difficulty, and I must say I do look forward to exploring this in greater depth. What the government did was that it gave in-principle support to the proposal—

Mr Smyth: Without sufficient information.

MR STANHOPE: That is why it was in-principle, with a demand in the correspondence providing only in-principle support that there be a full cost-benefit analysis undertaken. That is why the option—

Mr Smyth: Was that done?

Mr Seselja: Land for a peaking power station as part of it?

MR STANHOPE: Yes, that is the point. What the government did was that it provided in-principle support only, to express a willingness to engage with this most important project. It then demanded a full cost-benefit analysis of the proponents. It then provided it would only grant an option subject to this lodgement of a development application and the approval of the development application; and, once that process was concluded, it would give consideration to a direct grant by the LDA on the basis on which the LDA always gives a direct grant, and that would be on the basis of the completion of a full due diligence. Talk about ensuring that the public interest is protected at every stage. The process which the government followed guaranteed more completely than any other imaginable process that might have been pursued, other than telling the proponents to go somewhere else, that the public interest was protected.

It was approval in-principle only. It required the granting of an option subject to a commitment to a full cost-benefit analysis. It then required a development application to be lodged, to go through the statutory planning process, which ultimately involved a requirement, a direction, that there be a full environmental impact assessment. The Minister for Health actually provided that there be a health impact assessment in an earlier stage, which was later incorporated into the environmental impact assessment. Subject to the completion of that process, and the agreement to grant the development application, a process which has not yet been completed or concluded—in fact, public submissions are still invited until tomorrow; public consultation continues on this proposal as we speak—and subject to the decision by the statutory planner to approve the development application, consideration would then have been given, subject to the outcome of the cost-benefit analysis, to a full due diligence assessment by the Land Development Agency as to whether or not a direct grant would be approved.

This is the aspect of the report which my officials, which the Chief Minister’s Department, the Treasury, the strategic projects group and ACTPLA simply don’t understand: we can’t imagine, or could not conceive of, a process which would have

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