Page 385 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 December 2008

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A very strong concern in the community was that if this clause were to go ahead it would set a precedent for what a communications facility is and would therefore open up the prospect of broadacre being used for data centres or gas-fired power stations in the future. For that reason we will be opposing the clause. I understand the Greens and the government will also be opposing the clause, so I thank members for their support.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (5.26): The Greens are pleased to support the removal of clause 9 because it has too wide an impact. It may be reasonable to have the argument that a data centre with gas-fired cogeneration is by definition a communications facility and that consequently any land zoned as broadacre in the ACT is an appropriate site for such a facility. We do believe it is important to have a clear definition for data centres. However, the time or occasion for that debate is not when we are supporting legislation which is otherwise site specific and which seeks to ensure the proposed data centre development will be assessed under the merit track of the Planning and Development Act for a specified industrial site in Hume only.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.27): It was interesting to hear the Chief Minister in his conclusion reiterate that it is ACTPLA’s firm view that this is a communications facility, because clearly the Chief Minister, as he has done with so many reports, has not bothered to read the report. If you go to page 26, paragraph 3.9 states:

ACTPLA advised CMD on 28 August 2007 that the CTC proposal may only be allowable if it was considered a scientific research facility rather than office use. More information was required on the equipment and activities to confirm whether the proposed project met the definitions of the allowable uses contained within the National Capital Plan and Territory Plan.

Paragraph 3.10 states:

Audit noted that at this stage, the possibility the data centre was a communication facility was not envisaged by ACTPLA.

That is ACTPLA’s firm view. There it is in black and white. That is what they told the Auditor-General. It is just extraordinary because the next paragraph says:

After this advice was provided, CMD contacted ActewAGL on 30 August 2007 to obtain further information as requested by ACTPLA. ActewAGL responded on 31 August 2007 stating that the data centre was a communications facility, and supported this with a brochure that outlined the nature of the ‘communications infrastructure’ within the facility.

We are now running the territory plan by brochure! So if you want to get something through the ACT Labor Stanhope-Gallagher government just produce a brochure.

Mrs Dunne: Preferably with a jingle.

MR SMYTH: And, indeed, if you have got a jingle, that apparently goes down pretty well too. It is interesting that when you go to paragraph 3.12 the auditor notes:

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