Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2235..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
In addition, I have announced today that we will be releasing additional land for a commercial office building in the city centre. This development site on the corner of Edinburgh Avenue and London Circuit can accommodate a building in the order of 30,000 to 40,000 square metres in size, enough to accommodate a large commonwealth government department with around 3,000 to 4,000 employees. This is an important release to further strengthen the development of our city centre. In particular, I should note that it has been welcomed today by organisations including the Property Council of Australia and the Master Builders Association.
I also indicate that the release of that site in the city will be contingent on ensuring that all car parking currently provided on that site is maintained and enhanced to address the additional level of use on that site. We anticipate that either a structured car park or underground car parking for public car parking will be required to be provided as part of that development site. Those conditions will be outlined in the conditions of sale later this year.
MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Planning. It relates to the EpiCentre site. Minister, you have made several statements in both the media and during estimates that the lease and development conditions for section 48 Fyshwick were clear and that all bidders were adequately informed as to the land use. In estimates you said:
They knew what they were buying and it was clear to all parties what the potential uses were for the site.
Minister, if the lease and development conditions were so clear, why did at least two registered bidders, ING and Austexx, write to the planning bodies seeking clarification of the permitted use?
MR CORBELL: It is called due diligence, Mr Speaker. That is what big private companies do. They do due diligence and they assure themselves that they understand fully the planning controls for the site. I am amazed that someone who considers himself to be a potential planning minister in this place does not understand that fundamental concept of due diligence and the importance to private companies of clarifying the planning controls and regulations ahead of entering into a purchase.
That is what it was all about. It is called due diligence, and it happens every day of the week. There is nothing unusual in a developer or potential developer going to the planning authority and saying, "Can you just tell me exactly what this land is used for. I want to clarify exactly what the uses are before I go and spend a couple of million dollars or more."That, quite clearly, is what occurred in this case.
I am glad that Mr Seselja has raised this issue because one of the claims that has been made around the community in the past couple of months has been made by the Canberra International Airport. They themselves have said that they were a bidder for that site-they were prepared to pay $1 million less than the successful bidder-but they have claimed they did not know what could occur on that site.