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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 560 ..

Rural Residential Development

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, last week you advised the Assembly that the exclusive preliminary agreement or contract that the Government had with developer Derek Whitcombe for a rural residential development near Hall was terminated because Mr Whitcombe found he had authority to negotiate over only one lease, block 630, I understand, rather than the three he had originally brought to the table. Can you now confirm that 95 per cent of the proposed development was in fact intended for block 630? If so, can you indicate what relevance there was to the leases of blocks 629 and 495? Further, can you say why Mr Whitcombe would withdraw from such a potentially lucrative agreement simply because he had no explicit authority to negotiate over only 5 per cent of the land available?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, of course I cannot answer on what Mr Whitcombe may or may not be thinking or why he might have made a particular decision. What Mr Whitcombe brought to the table were three leases and the Bolton property of Hillview. When it became apparent to the Government two weeks ago, or a week-and-a-half ago, that two of those leases had already been passed back to government and there was only one lease that could be negotiated, we believed, and I think in the end Mr Whitcombe believed too, that the preliminary agreement in its current form could not proceed.

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mr Corbell?

MR CORBELL: Yes, Mr Speaker. Will the Chief Minister confirm - she failed to do so in her answer - that 95 per cent of the proposed development was intended for block 630? Can the Chief Minister say what was the real reason for Mr Whitcombe's withdrawal from the exclusive preliminary agreement or contract, because clearly the excuse she has given is not it?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, you may like to make a ruling on people asking the same question as a supplementary question to the first question.

MR SPEAKER: You cannot answer the second half of the question.

MS CARNELL: I make the point again. Mr Whitcombe brought three leases to the table. At that stage, Mr Speaker - - -

Mr Corbell: Ninety-five per cent. Is that true or is that not true?


MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, when the preliminary agreement was signed, to my knowledge there had not even been a breakdown of the number of blocks involved, or even where those blocks would be. The basis of the preliminary agreement was to look at planning issues, environmental issues and financial issues surrounding the proposed joint venture. That, of course, would mean looking at the number of blocks that may or may not be available, and the sorts of financial impacts and environmental impacts that that sort of break-up would have. To my knowledge, Mr Speaker - I am fairly confident that I am right - there was not even a breakdown of where the blocks would be when the preliminary agreement was signed.

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