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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3422 ..

The bill amends the City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency Act 2017 to allow the Suburban Land Agency to purchase freehold land in New South Wales. Apparently, the SLA can only purchase land under the ACT leasehold system. This is a significant policy position, in my opinion, and it raises governance questions about the location, land development, rates, service delivery and the local government impact. The community deserves some clarification on how New South Wales land, purchased by the ACT government, will be governed. What arrangement will be in place?

It is my understanding that the Riverview developer, currently developing the Ginninderry estate, is involved in a joint venture with the government and that entity owns New South Wales land, on the other side of the border, that is part of this development. I am very keen to hear as soon as possible—and I think that the community deserves such knowledge as well—how such land, if indeed it is going to be purchased by the ACT government, will be governed and managed, particularly given the disparity between New South Wales and ACT rates on land at the moment.

I do appreciate the briefing from officials from the minister’s department. They noted that some anomalies do exist that will be addressed by this bill: for example, biodiversity connectivity to protected species, to allow offsets in New South Wales for ACT government development and to address commonwealth land holding of New South Wales land that is part of ACT infrastructure. Imagine this in your own mind: a fire tower with support legs in the ACT and maybe one or two others in New South Wales on land held by the commonwealth.

While I do appreciate the briefing from the minister’s department, neither they nor the minister in her presentation speech—and perhaps we will be surprised to hear more now—have touched on how New South Wales land will be governed, will be managed. Is it for investment? Is it for residential development? I am very interested to hear her answer to these questions. Otherwise, I support this bill, and the Canberra Liberals do as well.

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (6.41): This bill makes amendments to the City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency Act. It makes the necessary technical amendments to allow the Suburban Land Agency to have the legal authority to buy and sell land in New South Wales, if needed, in future. This bill exists within the context of the ACT government’s commitment to 70 per cent of new housing development being developed within Canberra’s urban footprint.

The ACT Greens are committed to stopping endless development on ecologically sensitive areas. We need high-quality urban infill and city limits that stop unending urban sprawl. This bill must only be used in circumstances of particular need and it must not be used as an opportunity to extend urban sprawl beyond our borders without transparency or accountability. We will be watching closely how this bill is used, once it becomes law. It might be an excellent candidate later in the term for a review of operation and for the introduction of some checks and balances. The ACT Greens support this bill.

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