Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (28 May) . . Page.. 756 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
Mr Speaker, regardless of whether the Minister was answering a question in relation to a letter from the president of the Hall and District Progress Association, it clearly indicates what the Government's knowledge of the lease situation was prior to the Cabinet decision. They knew prior to the making of that decision that the Boltons' lease covered only one block, rather than three, and their excuse that the deal was off simply because the written authority held by the developer from the leaseholder did not cover the three leases simply does not match up. Mr Speaker, the Government has simply refused to explain its knowledge of the status of the leases prior to the Cabinet decision and prior to the beginning of this sitting fortnight when the deal collapsed. That, if anything, is the most serious ground on which this Assembly should express its grave concern.
In conclusion, Mr Speaker, it is clear that the Government's decision in relation to Hall/Kinlyside circumvented due process, ignored its own joint venture and tender guidelines, and deliberately or incompetently ignored fundamental concepts of leasehold administration in the Territory by allowing a presumptive right - a presumptive right, I should add, that exists on a lease which, effectively, has already been resumed by the Government and is being extended on a 30-day basis, a month-by-month basis. Further, Mr Speaker, it would appear that the Government was aware of the status of the leases at Kinlyside prior to the Cabinet decision of 22 December, as indicated in Mr Humphries's letter which I quoted earlier. Finally, it embarked upon a policy position in relation to rural residential development and pre-empted legitimate professional analysis of rural residential development in establishing and making such a decision. We have since discovered that this has already cost the Territory $150,000.
The Labor Opposition raises these concerns because they are central to our concern that the Government's "can do" beliefs have overridden good decision-making processes, processes which are meant to ensure that the Government makes decisions in a fair and open manner, with no perception of exclusive access and which protect, and do not undermine, the public interest. Ultimately, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, members themselves will have to make a judgment about the Government's conduct on this issue; but I ask members to consider seriously the details of this affair. The Opposition believes that, far from being over, as I am sure the Government would wish, this issue will continue to be one of significant public concern. I urge members to support the motion.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.48): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, rather than keeping this debate going all night, I think that probably the best way to handle this matter from my perspective is just to go through the seriously stupid points that Mr Corbell has already spoken about. Last week I advised the Assembly that the Hall rural estate development would not proceed. Notwithstanding that announcement, the Opposition has continued with what seems like a witch-hunt for excuses to justify its unfounded claims of secret dealings.
I can only reiterate what I said last week, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. In response, first of all, to the claim that the Government "failed to provide details of any exceptional circumstances which justified departing from its own stated position that joint ventures are not the preferred arrangement for land development", the answer is that the Government agreed to enter into direct negotiations on the basis that Derek Whitcombe had a letter of authority to negotiate on behalf of the Bolton family in respect of