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It is not only a question of the time involved in this. In connection with some of these approved proposals, there were other covenants. For example, in one case, in order to provide ease of access for traffic off the highway, as part of the approval the lessee was required to provide slip-lanes on the highway. If you go out there, you will find that there is no slip-lane there. That was approved as a condition of a proposal some years ago. So, you have to ask what is driving the lease management. In fairness to the officers in the departments that have been dealing with these matters, the issues are quite complex, and one can argue that a lessee is entitled to come along with a succeeding proposal, if he wishes to do so. He is the person that is paying the holding costs, technically, of leaving that land there idle until such time as he gets approval for a proposal that he feels he can go ahead with. So, there is a question of commercial expedience in this. But that assumes that there is only one side to the argument - that, in the interests of the community, that land can be left there, virtually derelict, for years and that the administration should do nothing to make sure that something happens there, particularly when there has been an approval to a proposed project that is supposed to take place there. We need to distinguish here between the planning aspects and the lease management aspects that relate to this piece of land.
It is an interesting case study. I suggest that members of the Assembly, before proceeding to debate the matter, after it is adjourned tonight - I presume that it will be - should read this report very carefully and find out just what happened over a period of eight years in connection with this block. It makes interesting reading. I found no fault, for example, with the way the planning aspects have been treated. It seems to me that the planners have had it right, and there are no gaps in the process as far as they are concerned; but, when you come over to the lease management side, there are some real questions about how far you let a developer go before you pull him or her up and say, “You have had enough rope. It is time you did something there”.
I do not know whether this experience is repeated across one or more other potential development blocks in Canberra. This could be unique. But it was because of the documented processes in connection with this block that I agreed that the committee should write to the Minister and ask that the processes of lease management be reviewed. I think there is enough evidence here to suggest that, at least in this case, there are some questions that need to be answered. Let us be clear: I am not, for a moment, suggesting that there is anything basically wrong with the way it has been administered. It seems that it has been administered in accordance with the law. But is that sufficient? Do we, or should we, require our public servants to be a little more meticulous in terms of the public interest in the way these matters are dealt with? I think that an investigation is the appropriate way to go. That recommendation has been made to the Minister, and I endorse that recommendation.
MR BERRY (5.28): Mr Speaker, this was a fairly intense area of the committee's deliberations, because it went to the examination of weighty information that was provided to the committee by a community member. One of the big problems I have about the way that this issue was approached by the community council officers is that it seemed to me at first - indeed, that view remained with me - that the intent was more to create a headline about the likelihood of some sort of corruption in the public sector.