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16 September 2008
BARR: Well thank you very much, thank you everyone for gathering. Welcome Minister Garrett, thank you very much for being here for this important announcement. This is the first major strategic assessment, environmental assessment, occurring of a major urban area. As Molonglo and North Weston is the next area of urban growth in the ACT, identified as part of our spatial planning process in 2004, were aiming to set very high environmental standards and through this process and this strategic assessment we will see this as a benchmark for environmental sustainability and urban development.
[inaudible] Minister Garrett a few words to say on this process.
GARRETT: Yes thank you Andrew, this is a great example of the National and the Territory Government working together for the first time to strategically assess a development under the national environment legislation in the ACT. This means that it is a win for the environment, it is a win for the community and it is a win for the developers because we will have a front end assessment of matters of national environment significance, we will have a Terms of Reference which enables communities and developers and interested parties to see clearly what the intention of this assessment is and it is to set high levels of environment sustainability in this development.
So I am really pleased today to be here with the ACT Minister because this is the first time ever in Australia that we have a strategic assessment of an urban and suburban development of this kind, under the national environmental legislation, with the Territory. The aim is to make sure that we provide certainty for the development, we provide adequate and thorough assessment of the natural and cultural values of this land and we do it in a way which is streamlined, which reduces costs and which makes the whole assessment process much quicker than it has been in the past.
GARRETT: Well the purpose of these strategic assessments is to frankly make a much better fist of what in the past, under the former government, the Commonwealth was doing very poorly. And that is not providing clarity about likely impacts of matters of national environmental significance that a Minister may make a decision on or not, at the front end of a development process.
So my expectation is that a strategic assessment of this kind enables us, working closely with the ACT Government and the development proponent, to identify any matters that maybe necessary for consideration and to develop the strategies necessary to resolve those issues prior to the development being undertaken.
GARRETT: Well, if you look at the draft Terms of Reference youll see that theyre pretty expansive and thorough and my responsibility as Federal Minister is to ensure that there is no impact on matters of national environment significance and that the development as a whole meets criterias of ecological sustainable development. Now, I have every confidence that that is the ambition of the ACT Government. Were looking forward very much to working with them. If there are matters of environmental significance that come up or matters of NES are there which we think require mitigation strategies or amendments of one kind or another, then theyll be assessed and theyll be resolved.
JOURNALIST: Will this potentially lengthen the process?
GARRETT: No, I think it will have the opposite affect. COAG has already made a commitment for the streamlining of assessment processes and to provide a mechanism by which we can actually see larger scale developments be given a strategic assessment at the front end of any proposal in order to identify issues or obstacles that may arise, make sure that we can resolve them and therefore provide for a timely process, rather than in the past where you can sometimes see these processes dragging out over time.
I have to say that this is an example of this Government working closely with the ACT Government. That is a good thing. It is also the first ever that ever that we will be having an assessment of this kind, a strategic upfront assessment, to save costs, to make sure that were dealing with the serious environmental matters in a timely fashion, making sure that the bar is kept high on environmental sustainability and delivering a good product for the people of Canberra.
GARRETT: Well look it is a strategic assessment and well work with the ACT Government. Well share material and data as necessary and officials will be able to work through what matters need to be considered [inaudible] that is the Commonwealths role in this particular matter.
JOURNALIST: Now Mr Turnbull is Opposition Leader, is that going to mean getting the emissions trading scheme through in the timescale and form that you originally envisaged?
GARRETT: Look, we will see what ultimate timeline position Mr Turnbull takes on these matters. The opposition have had a number of different positions on the timing of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme so many of them that it is hard to keep track of them. We will now see once Mr Turnbull makes their position clear, what their timelines are likely to be.
JOURNALIST: What do you think of Mr Turnbull being elected as opposition leader?
GARRETT: The position of opposition leader in this country is a really important one and it is in the national interest that Mr Turnbull exercises the responsibility with due diligence and in line with the national interest.
So, this is an important position, opposition leader, and we trust that Mr Turnbull will exercise his leadership responsibilities in the national interest.