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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 9 December 2004 2004) . . Page.. 305 ..

a lot of money; but you have to take it in the context of the land for which that compensation was offered. If you ask whether these people can take that amount of money that was offered to them, go and buy a property, either freehold or leasehold land, across the border and re-establish their business, the answer is no; they cannot do that. In fact, the property for which that compensation was offered has three houses on it. You could barely buy three houses in Canberra for that amount of compensation. And that does not take into account the sheds, fences, dams and timber treatment—all of those things. The offer that was made is pathetic.

Mr Corbell keeps saying, “We acted in good faith, and we acted without prejudice.” But a without prejudice negotiation is one where you put all your information on the table and you look at it and talk about it. But you cannot take away any information you obtain through that process and then go and take up legal proceedings elsewhere. It is as if you did not know that information. That is what a without prejudice negotiation is, and this government has never entered into a without prejudice negotiation with the Coonans, the Tullys and the Tanners and their representatives, because it has never put any information on the table. All it did was write a letter and say: “Here’s our figure. Take it or leave it.” That is a shameful way to behave.

We listened here today to the Minister for Planning, the person who has statutory responsibilities under the administrative order for the ACT leasehold system, and his lack of knowledge, which was then perpetuated by Mr Gentleman, a new person in this place, was absolutely shameful. That a minister who has held this position for three years should know so little about the history of rural leasing in the territory is an absolute disgrace. It is a disgrace that the Minister for Planning, who has held this position for more than three years, does not know the difference between land that was previously freehold but was made leasehold by the Whitlam government in the 1970s and land that was always leasehold; it was leasehold before Federation. Leases under the 99-year policy allow many more entitlements than a lease under the 20-year policy.

Mr Corbell showed today a shameful lack of understanding of the basics of his portfolio. He knows nothing about the leasehold system, and the people of this territory need to be very afraid if this is the man running the planning system in this territory. Given his appalling lack of understanding, this minister had better spend his Christmas break brushing up on the basics of his portfolio.

Mr Corbell went to great lengths to cast my position in as disadvantageous a light as possible. I will not say he misled the Assembly, but he certainly misunderstands—and probably wilfully misunderstands—my position. No person in this debate who has acted on behalf of the rural lessees has ever said, “Gee, this is potentially residential land and I want to recoup compensation as if it were residential land.” That has never been said and I put it on the record now that no-one in this debate wants to be compensated as if it were residential land. They want to be compensated according to the lease that was issued to them in 1955. All this minister has to do is find somebody in his department who can understand a 1955 lease—if no such person exists there, I suggest that he go and find himself a nice leasehold lawyer who can read a lease—and he can then sit down and negotiate with these people. If he is not going to do it face to face—he has not done it yet, and I understand the reasons for that—he has to ensure that his officials behave in good faith.

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