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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (30 March) . . Page.. 1285..


MR CORNWELL (continuing):

in and had the fences repaired in New South Wales? Why have lessees had to wait so long for this matter to be even poorly resolved?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mr Cornwell for the question. It has been a difficult and complex issue, much more complex than one would have thought at first blush-made complex by the array of leases that apply to rural leases throughout the ACT. As members will be aware, under the previous government there was a decision to move rural leases in certain circumstances to 99-year tenures.

At that stage, on the basis of that decision-and a rolling basis as the lease is converted to 99 years-leases were redrafted, recrafted and redrawn to take account of their change of tenure. It is generally accepted that there will be some sharing of responsibility for fences between neighbours. In relation to the government nature reserves and the road reserves, the ACT government has a responsibility. But all internal fences-and this is consistent throughout Australia, despite some preamble in Mr Cornwell's question-are the responsibility of the leaseholder. Mr Cornwell is suggesting that the ACT should have accepted, without question, responsibility for repairing every single fence, irrespective of ownership of that fence.

Mrs Dunne: I rise on a point of order. Under standing order 118A, the Chief Minister is wandering off the topic. We are not talking about internal fences; we are talking about boundary fences between government leases and-

MR SPEAKER: Resume your seat, Mrs Dunne. There is no point of order. The Chief Minister is sticking to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: I must say that it was not clear to me, and I apologise. In relation to shared fences, to only boundary fences-that is, fences between leasehold land and territory land-the territory has accepted its full responsibility.

MR CORNWELL: I have a supplementary question. Why are you making rural lessees take sole responsibility for future repairs to shared boundaries between their properties and ACT government land? I quote:

Upon completion of the repair work fencing that is not already your responsibility and property is to become your and any subsequent owner's responsibility and property.

Are you making provision for the next fire?

MR STANHOPE: Mr Cornwell's question misunderstands the basis of ownership of fencing on leasehold land. There has been considerable taxpayer funded repair to rural fences-we are talking about 31/2 to four million dollars worth of fencing paid for by the ACT ratepayer to rural leaseholders.

We are talking about up to $4 million worth of contribution by the ACT ratepayer to rural fences-a very significant contribution and expenditure by the government on behalf of the ratepayers to rural lessees for the repair and replacement of burnt fences. This is a very significant contribution that goes to the repair and replacement of fences


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