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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3106..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Alternatively, they may surrender the land back to the territory under the existing provisions of section 214. Under section 178 of the land act, the lessee of the original grant who surrenders the lease of undeveloped land to the territory is entitled to a refund of the amount paid by them for the grant, less the cost incurred by the territory in surrendering the land. The same refund amount is payable on termination of a lease.

The current provisions of section 178 do not envisage a circumstance where a surrender or a termination would apply to anyone other than the first lessee. If a surrender was to occur now and the lessee was not the original lessee, there would be no obligation to pay for the land. The amendments to section 178 will allow for the payment on surrender or termination of a lease to be determined by regulation. The regulations would maintain the current payment of an original lease of an existing residential lease. The payment on surrender or termination of the residential lease where the lessee is not the original lessee would be the lessee's purchase price or the current market price, whichever is the lesser.

Without the provision for paying the lessee the lesser of two amounts a significant drop in land prices may encourage a lessee who bought at a high price to surrender the lease to the territory in order to minimise their financial loss. Likewise, if a lessee bought in a low market and the legislation required the payment of market value on surrender, there would be an incentive to surrender the lease in a high market. That would make the territory a provider of guaranteed speculative gain. This would clearly be an unacceptable arrangement.

With the loophole for speculation removed, only persons intending to develop in accordance with the lease would purchase land that would contribute to the objective of maintaining an orderly development of land. The inclusion of a capacity to consent to transfer, under section 180, as a result of a lessee's financial and personal circumstances, provides an appropriate protection for genuine and demonstrated hardship cases. For example, where a lessee provides evidence that, as a result of long-term illness and associated medical costs, they are no longer able to comply with the building and development covenants, that evidence would enable the Planning and Land Authority to consent to the transfer of undeveloped land.

This bill will help to better support the fundamental principles of the leasehold system and clearly demonstrates the government's commitment to upholding those principles. The amendments will not affect genuine transfers but will hold accountable those who seek to manipulate the system for inappropriate personal gain, so that speculation on undeveloped residential leases will be no longer possible. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Dunne ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Water Resources Management Plan 2004

Disallowance of D1 2004-66

MRS DUNNE (10.52): I move:

That Disallowable Instrument DI2004-66-Water Resources Management Plan 2004 be disallowed.

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