Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 October 2022) . . Page.. 3276 ..
Chief Minister, I trust that you will take this on as a challenge to look at the basic things that people need to walk around safely as shoppers, and that is going to business. Surely, that should be a pretty clear priority in an area where you have a particular target and a particular levy. Again, what are these highly paid executives and specialists really doing? We will be looking at that question a little bit further, and I will be very interested to see. I know that Mr Snow did mention during the response to my queries about the high salary for 27 staff of over $6 million, as per the papers, that there were lots of specialists. We have got only three specialists listed in the table provided by the Chief Minster. Sadly, it does not say what they are specialists in. To me, it would have been considerate of the Chief Minister to think to himself, “Oh, okay, we’ve got three specialists—I wonder if it’s worth telling Mr Cain what they actually do.” But I have to ask more questions to find that out.
There is much to be concerned about, but I can assure the payers of this levy that the Canberra Liberals are more than happy to go and visit their sites to talk to them and see what value they think the levy provides to them rather than the self-assessment of the CRA saying, “We did consultation, and we thought it was a really good consultation.” That is a pretty unsatisfactory response and not a genuine way to gather feedback.
Thank you for the extension of time, Madam Speaker. I do ask the members in this place to really consider the City Renewal Authority’s priorities and to really consider where this money is being spent—apart from, obviously, on high wages for very senior people—and whether this levy is being used for the purpose of encouraging businesses and engagement with the city area for shoppers and visitors. We have people come into the parks nearby; is this levy really enhancing their experience? Or do they wonder, like I do, “Is any money being spent here on things that really affect us as we are moving around?”
MR PARTON (Brindabella) (10.32): In regard to City Renewal Authority, I could not let debate on this line of budget spending go without making mention, again, of how business owners and communities in the far flung town centres feel about the CRA. I had a discussion on Tuesday morning, in fact, with one of the SouthFest organisers who remarked that the City Renewal Authority is great—for the city.
It really emphasises the great divide in the thinking of this government between the inner city and the outer town centres. Is this not a common theme, Madam Speaker? If it happens in Braddon or the city, the Chief Minister is all over it, but he really needs the GPS anywhere south of Curtin or west of the ANU. People in the suburbs are just sick of being the poor cousins. This is the very real perception. This is the very real perception from so many Canberrans in the outer lying areas. I do a lot of door knocking and it comes up time and again. Mr Cain has gone through the spending on wages and other aspects of the CRA in quite significant detail. I know that it raises concern for people in the outlying areas.
I need to mention SouthFest in Tuggeranong because this is the sort of thing that the City Renewal Authority would be taking coverage of if it were in the city centre. The SouthFest organisers are running this remarkable program this time around. In part, it was dreamt up as a consequence of COVID in that, at the time of the initial planning,