Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 1 June 1995) . . Page.. 727 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: I think that is the implication of his question, and I have to admit to him that he is absolutely right. I have to be frank with you; we have done just that. Mr Speaker, as the representative of my party, wrote to those residents on that date and indicated that we would be including Kingston within the Lansdown guidelines. When we took office and I became Minister for Planning, I was asked to honour this promise, and I sought advice about doing so. I understand that, at about the same time as the promise was made, there was communication between Mr Speaker - our planning spokesman, as he then was - and an officer of the Planning Authority about the progression of planning guidelines over Kingston. For whatever reason, possibly because of a confusion in the nature of the communication there, planning rules did change, or were put in place, in respect of Kingston which obviated, or put to one side, the Lansdown guidelines. That may be irrelevant to the matter.
When asked about the consequences of honouring this decision, I took the view that the nature of the leases already issued to the owner of the women’s bowling club site and the owner of the Gigmanity gallery site was such as to permit them to proceed with development of the kind for which they had drawn up plans and for approval of which they had already had an application in to the Planning Authority in respect of design and siting. I took the view that to change the rules at that point and apply the Lansdown guidelines to those developments and others that would consequentially be in the same boat would result in the Territory being obliged, morally at least, to pay those people compensation of a very considerable amount. It would have cost the Territory several million dollars to honour the promise.
Mr Speaker, the decision not to apply the Lansdown guidelines to Kingston was a decision made by my predecessor, Mr Wood. It was a decision which you, Mr Speaker, as planning spokesman for the Liberal Party, promised to reverse. I have to say that it is a matter of great regret to me that I do not believe that the circumstances permit the Government to honour that promise. I do not lightly indicate to the Assembly or others that we are unable to honour a promise to the community that we made in good faith at the time. But the fact is that the consequence of honouring that promise would be the probable legal liability, if not the moral liability, of the Territory for several million dollars worth of compensation to people affected by that change. I believe that there are more productive things to spend those millions of dollars on than this particular promise. That is the position the Government has taken.
MR MOORE: On a supplementary question, Mr Speaker: Is it the case that, in interpreting Liberal Party promises from now on, where the promises are worth a million or so, we do not believe them; but, if they are worth under a million, we can believe them?
MR HUMPHRIES: I am happy to answer that question, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Moore, it is a hypothetical question.
Mr Moore: I do not think it is a hypothetical question at all.