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NPAACT Home > News Items > Commonwealth Requirements Stop Rebuilding Of Pierces Creek

Commonwealth Requirements Stop Rebuilding Of Pierces Creek


Media Release from Jon Stanhope

The ACT Cabinet has decided it is unable to proceed with the rebuilding of the Pierces Creek Settlement under the conditions imposed by the Federal Government and the National Capital Authority.


“This is not the news I was hoping to give to residents,” Mr Stanhope said today. “The ACT Government has tried hard to achieve a workable compromise that would have allowed the rebuilding process to begin, but the obdurate stance of the Commonwealth at every step of the way has left the ACT with no option.


“The Shaping Our Territory Sustainability Report on Pierces Creek, prepared in 2004, made it absolutely and utterly clear that to rebuild a settlement of 13 public houses would be poor policy and would result in an unsustainable community — economically, socially and environmentally.

“As the report pointed out, the future of each of the former forestry settlements — Stromlo, Uriarra and Pierces Creek — had been uncertain for some time prior to the 2003 bushfires. The report made it clear that any decision to rebuild the settlements should take into account issues above and beyond  the humanitarian objective of returning residents to their homes.”

The full report can be found at


Mr Stanhope said that after a two-stage tender process, negotiations were underway in relation to the redevelopment of enlarged Stromlo and Uriarra settlements of 40 and 100 houses respectively. The ACT Government had had high hopes of being able to announce the start of a similar process for a viable settlement at Pierces Creek.


“As everyone in Canberra knows, the ACT Government had great plans for Pierces Creek,” Mr Stanhope said. “We proposed the building of a 50-home settlement on the site — a sustainable mix of public and private housing which would be home to a thriving community of all ages, capable of maintaining critical common facilities such as a rural bush fire brigade. When it became obvious that such a proposal was unacceptable to the Commonwealth, the ACT Government put forward a compromise proposal for a settlement of 25 to 30 houses — far from optimal, in terms of sustainability, but still vastly preferable to a 13-home enclave of public housing.


“The National Capital Authority has consistently refused to budge from its 13-home ultimatum. At no stage has it offered even the prospect of compromise. It is obvious that the NCA never wanted Pierces Creek to be rebuilt and has put obstacle after obstacle in the path of ACT attempts to find a solution that could see residents return to their beloved settlement and pick up the pieces of their lives.  


“It is hard to comprehend the NCA’s complete and utter intransigence on this issue, and frankly it is an outrage that a few unelected people, half of whom do not even live in the ACT, should wield the ultimate power to dash the hopes of Pierces Creek residents. I am sure all Canberrans wonder why the NCA takes such a keen interest  in an area of the ACT that is 30km from the Parliamentary Triangle and that is invisible from practically anywhere else in the Territory.”


Mr Stanhope said there had been a glimmer of hope in the lead-up to Christmas that the Prime Minister, John Howard, might take a personal interest in the plight of former residents, after an approach from Liberal Senator Gary Humphries and others. This had unfortunately come to nothing.


Affected families have been informed of the Cabinet decision and the ACT Government will work through housing and other issues confronting individual householders. Former residents will be offered houses in the rebuilt Stromlo or Uriarra Villages. Some had indicated they would prefer to stay on in town.


“My thoughts are with affected residents today,” Mr Stanhope said.  “Like them, I had high hopes of seeing residents return to Pierces Creek and am sorely disappointed that the Commonwealth has put such insurmountable barriers in our way.”


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