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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 708 ..

Office Development - Turner

MR MOORE: My question is to Mr Humphries as Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning. I need to give a bit of background, Mr Speaker. Yesterday, in answer to a question that I asked Mr Humphries about block 1, section 58, Turner, he said:

I think, with respect, the Turner residents and Dr Dickins have run for the pens before the matter has been decided and could not be reversed or reconsidered.

Mr Humphries, I presume that you have had an opportunity now to follow this up and ask your department what has been going on. I refer to a letter to Dr Dickins from an officer in your leasing division who is in charge of that area. The letter mentions a variation to the lease from 14,900-odd square metres to about double that area. The officer states:

I wish to advise that the application has been approved by the Minister -

I presume that that is also by delegation -

under section 245 of the Land (Planning and Environment) Act ...

This is subject to a series of conditions, which include betterment and so on. I am surprised that your office does not use the term "development rights levy". Nevertheless, Minister, I ask you, now that you are aware that that letter has been written: Has that decision been made, can it be reversed, and do you think it is appropriate for us to look at doubling the size of office space in areas like Dickson and Civic at a time when we should be trying to encourage people to move to Gungahlin and to Tuggeranong, in particular, for their work?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, it is certainly the case that I have not personally seen or approved any application in respect of that site. Mr Moore is right when he says that these things are done by delegation, and perhaps the language in those letters should be changed to say that the delegate has done those things, rather than the Minister personally. Be that as it may, I have not been able to obtain information about this matter to the extent that I would like. I would remind Mr Moore and other members that there are still bans in force in respect of contact with Ministers' offices, and they sometimes make the acquisition of information difficult.

I stand by the comment I made yesterday that that decision is reversible if it is the wrong decision. I stand by the comment I made yesterday, also, that I have not been approached by Dr Dickins or anyone from the Turner Residents Association, that I am aware of, who was concerned about this decision, and I am quite prepared to reconsider that decision if they put that case to me. I am sure that there are mechanisms in place to do that. I do not believe that it is necessary even to legislate to achieve that. I am quite prepared to consider that proposal; but, again, I say to them that they should put that case before the Government.

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