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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2183..

Land-rural leases

(Question No 654)

Mr Smyth

asked the Minister for Planning, upon notice:

In relation to rural leases.

(1) Can the Minister advise how many fire affected rural lessees are not eligible for 99 years leases and what are the reasons for non-eligibility?

(2) Over what length of time are those only eligible for short-term leases being offered?

(3) Why is there an outstanding number of rural lessees that have not taken up the 99 year lease offer?

(4) Can the Government provide any details about the reasons why some rural lessees have not taken up the 99 year lease offer to date?

Mr Corbell

: The answer to the member's questions is as follows:

(1) Of the 66 fire affected rural leases, three leases are not eligible for 99 years leases. These three are eligible, however, for 20 year leases. Following the January bushfires the Government announced that studies into non-urban fire affected areas were to be conducted. The three leases are within an area of Stromlo that has been identified for possible future development and is included in the studies. These three leases were previously eligible for 99 year leases, however, the Disallowable Instrument that specifies maximum rural lease terms has been amended to reflect this change in tenure. The Disallowable Instrument has been signed recently.

(2) In March 2003 the Government announced that rural lessees who had not yet taken up the Government's offer of a further rural lease would be given a further three months to accept the earlier offer. The amendments to the Disallowable Instrument also allow for those who are eligible and have not applied for the further leases, short or long term lease, a further three months to take advantage of the concessional payout rate. Once the three months has lapsed further leases may still be applied for, but, the amount payable will be based on market value. None of the three fire affected lessees have made application for a further rural lease.

(3) Of the 66 fire affected leases only seven lessees have not applied for a further lease. Included in these seven are the three aforementioned lessees. These lessees refer to themselves as the Sustainable Rural Lands Group (SLRLG).

There is only one other lessee, not in a fire affected area, but eligible for a 99 year lease who has, for unknown reasons, not made application for a further lease.

Of the 66 fire affected leases, 27 lease offers have been made of which 17 have been finalised. Finalisation of a number of other 99 year lease applications are dependent on the resolution of issues such as the direct grant of additional land and requirements for a potential future dam in the Tennent/Booth districts for finalisation.

(4) In the view of the seven rural lessees who have not taken up the 99 year lease option the terms of the new leases are not favourable to them. The issues are complex and are not easily summarised. These lessees are included in a group of 38 whose rural leases were

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