Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1465..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
an estimates committee which does not provide a place for this shadow Treasurer? He puts his shadow police minister on it.
MR SPEAKER: The minister's time has expired.
Planning—Narrabundah long-stay caravan park
DR FOSKEY: My question to the Minister for Planning is in regard to the Narrabundah long-stay caravan park. The Assembly would recall that prior to the sale of the park in February I asked the minister if the ACT government would consider rezoning the block in order to protect the park's role as a home for secure and affordable housing. In response, Minister, you argued that the government did not believe that a variation was required but that you would encourage Koomarri to ensure that they sell it to a third party with a bona fide interest in continuing to operate the facility as long-stay accommodation. Minister, did you encourage Koomarri to choose such a buyer? And given that you failed with that endeavour, what plans have you in place to ensure that those residents do not loose their home sites?
MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. I cannot recall whether I said I will or I do encourage Koomarri to sell to a third party who was interested maintaining the facility as a long-stay caravan park; so I will need to check the Hansard to see exactly what commitment, if any, I made. What I can say very clearly is that the issue here is that a previous government sold this long-stay caravan park. They sold it to Koomarri with a requirement that it continue to operate as a long-stay caravan park for a minimum of five years. Koomarri have upheld their end of that arrangement. What has now transpired is that Koomarri has sold that to a third party and I have been advised today that that third party has issued notices that the residents will not have their tenancy arrangements renewed once they expire.
Mr Speaker, I am pretty angry with the approach that has been taken by the new owner. If I were a resident of the Narrabundah long-stay caravan park and received a letter from a senior partner of Clayton Utz telling residents to "pay up and, by the way, you need to find somewhere else to live after the end of November", I would be pretty angry too. It does not appear to me that the owner of the long-stay caravan park is acting in good faith or with real respect for the long-term tenancy of the residents of that caravan park.
I am currently seeking advice from both the planning authority and the department of justice on this issue. In relation to the planning authority, the question I have is: is any application currently before the authority to vary the lease to permit other uses? I am currently waiting for that advice but I think the answer to that will be no. However, I will confirm that with the Assembly.
In relation to the issue of tenancy arrangements, quite clearly the issue that I have some concern about is whether or not the owner is acting in a way which is consistent with their legal obligations and which actually shows some respect to the people who are residents of the caravan park. It is, of course, worth emphasising, as Dr Foskey has, that the residents of the caravan park are largely on low incomes and really see this as a viable—indeed, the only viable—form of accommodation open to them. Certainly, it would appear they are not able to enter the broader housing market and the only other option for them would potentially be public housing.