Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 May 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1756 ..
I was interested in Dr Foskey’s comments about not wanting to stir the pot and suggesting that maybe this is a debate that should not be had. I would have thought that this is the sort of thing the Greens should always be engaging in—a debate about the future of our city, calling on the minister to be open to all plans. So I am not quite sure where Dr Foskey was coming from on that, but I think this is a good debate for the Assembly to be having and I am sure we will be having many more like this in the future.
The minister spoke a bit about cosmopolitan activity. As Mr Smyth mentioned, there is a mixed message coming from the government on encouraging cosmopolitan activity in the city. There is an appalling lack of parking in the city at the moment, which has been well documented, so that people cannot come in for a quick bite and find a park anywhere close to where they want to dine. That obviously undermines what the minister said.
Another thing is the proposed taxes. What does the government do? On the one hand, it talks about a vibrant city heart and we have these pictures of people dining outdoors. Then what does it do? It goes and taxes them out of existence. The plan was for an increase of 330 per cent. So we are looking for the detail of what the city heart levy will mean and what it will mean for cafes and for business. There are definitely some mixed messages coming through on that. The lack of economic management always comes back to bite. They can have all the plans in the world, but a lack of economic management means they have to claw the money back from somewhere; that is what we are seeing at the moment.
Mr Corbell also spoke about not playing the man, and he has accused me of playing the man. Well, this is not about playing the man. But that is exactly what Mr Corbell did last week. As soon as someone came out with an alternative proposal, he attacked the man. He said, “Oh, this is unduly influencing; this is railroading,” when all Mr Snow was doing was putting forward a vision for the city. Mr Corbell can reject the vision. He is well within his rights to say, “I don’t like it.” But to say that Mr Snow is somehow unduly influencing or railroading the process is inappropriate and he should apologise to Mr Snow for those comments.
The other issue here is that there seemed to be a bit of a change of heart from Mr Corbell during this debate, and even in some of the words of Mr Quinlan. In fact, the Treasurer spoke of being open to all plans and said he would welcome more plans for City Hill. Yet Mr Corbell’s press release says; “The concept planning had opened the way for more detailed planning, engineering and traffic investigations regarding the impact on traffic and parking. This will lead to the preparation of appropriate planning instruments to allow development to proceed.” Those words talk about detailed planning but they do not leave the way open for an alternative plan; it is just tweaking the details of Mr Corbell’s plan.
I am quite fascinated with the debate that has gone on today. I want to know, the opposition wants to know and the community wants to know what is the position. Is Mr Corbell’s plan, as put forward in his press release, set in stone, apart from the detail? Will that be the plan for the future or is he open to other ideas? We are getting a number of mixed messages from the government. We do not know what cabinet’s view is on it.