Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4243..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
want to deal with them."This is not how you deal with people that you find difficult to get on with. What has happened here is that essentially two blocks of land have been excised and treated differently, and their owners have been treated differently.
I would like to go on to the developments that have happened in the past day or so. While I say that there has been some progress-and I commend Ms Tucker and her staff for facilitating much of that progress-I think it is far from a satisfactory outcome. We have an undertaking from the minister: he said that he would ensure that the rural lessees in Belconnen and the Coppins Crossing area would now have adequate compensation. But at this stage there is no recognition of what adequate compensation would be. (Extension of time granted). During Ms Tucker's speech, I was watching the body language of the minister and his advisers. I heard Ms Tucker's speech and I have heard reports of the meeting from some of the people present other than Ms Tucker's staff. From the body language of the minister and his advisers, what Ms Tucker was saying and what I was told obviously was not what was being heard by the government. When the minister and the minister's advisers get quite so agitated, I wonder how strong and how firm is that commitment that the minister has made today.
In question time today I asked the question: "Do you undertake that any compensation paid to these lessees will be made on just terms in accordance with the conditions set out in their leases?"The minister could not make a simple yes/no commitment. He would not make a commitment to deal with these people on just terms. Today he has said that they will receive adequate compensation. I am not satisfied with what is being proposed. Ms Tucker is satisfied, and Ms Tucker is the person who holds the balance in this debate. But I am putting on the record that I am not satisfied. Ms Tucker said that she will hold this government accountable to this understanding. I am putting on the record that I will hold this government accountable to this understanding.
My preference would be that this disallowable instrument be amended today and, after the government has dealt adequately and fairly with these people and come up with a package that has been signed, sealed, and delivered, I will consider an amendment to the rural leases to allow these leases to become 20 years or any other term that the government would like. But, until we are satisfied as an Assembly, until we are sure as an Assembly that these people will be dealt with in just terms, that their interests are paramount in this, we should vote for the opposition's amendment to this disallowable instrument. When we no longer need the disallowable instrument in the form that it would become, then we will be quite happy to entertain the minister changing it.
We have seen a lot of things in the past month since we debated this. One of the really interesting things was the comments made by the head of the Bushfire Recovery Taskforce in his non-urban study. Sandy Hollway, both in the study and in his public comments, made it very clear that he was concerned about the way that rural lessees in general were being treated and made particular comments about not solving the problems of rural lessees and not dealing in a way that would adequately compensate people for their needs. He said, at one stage, that with the government earning a million dollars an acre, if they actually manage to sell this land, they can afford to properly compensate these people. Sandy Hollway has made it clear-and this is the government's own commissioned report-that these people are being very badly done by. And until this government ceases to treat these people badly, we should not allow this disallowable