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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 May 2018) . . Page.. 1602 ..

Despite all of that, we are not going to give a no at the end of this; we just cannot see the point. In conclusion, the Canberra Liberals will not be opposing this bill because while it provides very little benefit in itself, it has little negative effect.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (4.25): I rise to speak in support of the bill today. I start by thanking the Chief Minister and the minister for planning for bringing this legislation forward. While this legislation applies to the whole of the ACT, I believe it will have a particularly positive impact in my electorate to support the regeneration of Woden town centre. The government has been talking for some time to industry and other stakeholders about how the ACT’s current policy mix interacts with development decisions.

In a market as complex and significant as the property market, it is very important to ensure that our policy settings are properly calibrated and working in the same direction as the government and the community’s broader objectives. If we are keen to see urban regeneration in Canberra’s town centres, we need to make sure that there are not unreasonable hurdles in front of development. This was the theme of discussion at the Woden round table I hosted in May last year. It brought together government, community, businesses and developers in Woden to discuss the regeneration of the town centre.

The fact that at the moment payment deadlines for the lease variation charge can be differently aligned with the cash flows from major development projects was one of the discussions with the minister for planning and industry stakeholders at the round table. As my constituents well know, our town centre has had challenging times in the past, with cuts from federal Liberal governments leaving many commercial buildings empty and needing redevelopment.

In order to redevelop the buildings, many require a lease variation and thus incur the charge. I am proud that the government has been able to bring forward this bill today as an outcome from the Woden round table to support the redevelopment of old buildings in the town centre and across the whole of Canberra.

This bill puts in place a new option to defer payments of lease variation charges that are above $100,000. This charge will give project proponents more options when it comes to meeting their LVC obligations and so ensure this does not provide a barrier to new projects getting underway. Of course, the lease variation charge will still be able to be paid up-front. But under this legislation, options will be provided to defer the payment of the charge or pay it in instalments to better align with the revenue flow associated with a development.

At the moment a lease variation charge becomes payable when a lease is varied so that the demolition or construction of a building can begin. The start of a project is not always when project cash flows are available. Developers will now be able to wait to make their payment for a period up to when the certificate of occupancy is issued or four years after the lease variation is approved, whichever comes first.

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