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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (28 May) . . Page.. 778 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The scope of the work of the inquiry into rural residential development also says, "Analyse the costs and benefits to the ACT of rural residential development" - not analyse how good it is going to be for Canberra so that we can introduce it, but look at whether it is going to have costs or benefits. Why is the Government fixed on the idea of entering into rural residential development when the document itself says, "Analyse the costs and benefits to the ACT of rural residential development"? Finally, Mr Speaker, it says, "Prepare a discussion paper for community consultation covering an assessment of the benefits and costs of the introduction of rural residential development". What is the point of having community consultation if the Government has already made up its mind? What a load of rubbish we have heard tonight from the Chief Minister!

Mr Speaker, the other nonsense that we have heard from the Chief Minister this evening is that the Government recognises the rights of the Boltons because they have been on the land for 150 years. Perhaps the Chief Minister was not aware, but leaseholders in the Hall area who previously held freehold title to that land were bought out by the Commonwealth in the early 1970s. They have been paid out for their rights to that land. They were paid out for their rights to that land by the Commonwealth in the 1970s. Any rights they now have to the land are leasehold rights, not freehold rights. The Chief Minister knows that. Mr Moore should know that, too. Mr Moore, who has been such a strong defender in this place of the leasehold system for all the time he has been here, is now, effectively, condoning the actions of the Government in recognising a so-called presumptive right as though it was freehold land, when the Government knows that it is not. I hope that I am wrong about Mr Moore. I hope that Mr Moore is still a defender of the leasehold system, but his actions tonight have proven otherwise.

The Labor Party has learnt its lesson about joint ventures. Clearly, when you are entering into land development, you need an open process. Yes, we made mistakes when we were in government; but, unlike those opposite, we are prepared to admit that we made mistakes. We are prepared to admit that the way joint ventures were handled was less than desirable in our term of office. We are now saying that it is about time that the Government recognised that also.

Mr Speaker, fundamentally, this motion was about accountability. It was about recognising that the Government had a flawed process. It was about expressing grave concern about the Government's processes in relation to this matter. What we have seen tonight is that the Government has decided instead, with the support of the crossbenches, to put in a motion that congratulates it on its efforts. Mr Speaker, it is quite clear that that is the will of this Assembly, but I would say that it is a complete and absolute farce. If the Government thinks that this is going to be the end of the matter, it is sadly mistaken. Serious issues about the process remain. Serious questions remain unanswered about the process.

I hope Mr Smyth is laughing on the other side of his face in three, six or 12 months' time - however long it takes for this issue to be resolved properly - because the community knows that this was a secret deal, that this was an exclusive arrangement, contrary to all of the Government's processes and contrary to how we should administer leasehold in the Territory. The Labor Party stands by the original form of this motion and will be opposing the motion in the form amended by the Assembly.

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