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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 204..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

to say that is not the government's preferred position. It is not a position that we would pursue. I think it is a particularly dangerous and retrogressive position and precedent to seek to establish.

I cannot say at this stage what the outcome of discussions that I know have been initiated by the minister's office with the owners of the land might have been or what the success of those steps may have been. I suggest that you ask the Minister for Planning about that.

But at this stage the status quo certainly remains, namely, land was sold by the previous government legitimately and lawfully to a very good corporate citizen. They own that land and they have every right to pursue whatever development will meet the approval processes of the ACT government in relation to that. At this stage, as far as I am aware, that is the position.

MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Chief Minister, do you have confidence that the outcome desired by the Assembly and the community will be met?

MR STANHOPE: The outcome desired by the community is that the rule of law pertain. We have a company that owns a block of land sold to them by the previous government and they have certain lawful rights in respect of it. So the community's expectation is that, as always, somebody that lawfully owns a piece of land can lawfully utilise it in whatever way they wish. Certainly, I would have thought that was the overriding community desire in relation to this.

Certainly, the Assembly expressed a post facto and interesting view in the context of the opposition's support for the undoing or turning back of the decision it made to sell the land. It wishes to now undo that. It has seen the light, apparently. But having sold this block of land and received the revenue from it and expended it on behalf of the people of the ACT, it now wants to somehow undo that particular commercial deal. It is interesting, of course, for us to reflect on that. But it is not particularly easy to undo those sorts of deals. The land was sold-it was sold legitimately and lawfully.

It is not for this government to go around and tell somebody who purchased a significant piece of land for a significant price how to now proceed with that. To the extent that the minister took seriously the interests and the wish as expressed by this Assembly-I must say, the new position of the now opposition in relation to that-I would suggest, and I do not have the final answer to this, that at this stage the owner of that land is considering his options.

National Office for the Information Economy

MRS CROSS: My question is directed to the Treasurer. It was reported in today's Canberra Times that the federal Labor Party has plans to abolish the National Office for the Information Economy, which is located in Canberra. That will result in the loss of 160 jobs for Canberrans. ACT Senator Kate Lundy attempted to justify that policy position, which will result in 160 lost jobs for Canberrans, by blaming the Howard government. Does the Treasurer support his party colleagues and advocate the abolition of the National Office for the Information Economy and, with it, 160 jobs, or will he stick up for the ACT and call on his federal Labor colleagues to reverse a policy that is highly detrimental to Canberra and Canberrans?

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