Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1227 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
Mr Speaker, the Chief Minister in her speech has completely rejected the Opposition's assertions that the unintentional confusion between the use of the words "blocks" and "leases" was indicative of any fundamental breakdown of proper process. I note that the couple of speakers for the Opposition so far are still using that as an indication of impropriety by the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister. Mr Stanhope himself - and I will say it again; it has been said a few times - indicated that he has confused "lease" and "block". Mr Stanhope, of course - as are the Deputy Chief Minister and I - is a lawyer. One would expect that he would know better, but he has confused it. He admits that. I cannot see the point there. As soon as that confusion was obvious to my two colleagues, they apologised. They wrote to members of the Assembly and indicated that, as is right and proper.
The Chief Minister in her speech has indicated that few commercial arrangements have met the due diligence requirements embedded into the preliminary agreement between the Territory and Hall Real Estate. She has challenged the Opposition to produce comparable documents that they used when in government. We have already heard some discussion today about the Harcourt Hill development, a development in which, if people look at the latest budget, we had to put in, I think, an extra $3.3m as a result of stuff-ups made by the then Labor Government in terms of that less than perfect joint development.
Ms Carnell: And how much money have we put into Kinlyside now?
MR STEFANIAK: Nothing in this budget. The figure I have seen in terms of any cost is a little over $100,000. That is very different from $3.3m. That is very different from the potential loss of about $20m that could occur in relation to that joint development which, again, was less than perfect. I seem to recall that was not necessarily the only occasion that the Opposition launched into joint ventures. They entered into exclusive joint venture arrangements, with no effective process to protect the Territory's interest. Nothing done in the past by the previous Government could match the protection and due process that my colleagues the Chief Minister and the then Planning Minister insisted on. What they agreed was that the concept had merit and should be pursued further.
I would suggest that, whatever the innate problems or otherwise with this particular concept, or whatever has transpired in terms of who actually owned leases, blocks or whatever, the concept was put up and it was decided it had merit and should be pursued further. When one looks at the Assembly debate at the end of May this year, when the majority of members of the Assembly actually accepted that rural residential was a good idea, one finds that the Assembly tended to back the fact that an idea of this kind indeed had merit. It is quite plain, from all that has occurred, that my colleagues recognised the important environmental planning and heritage issues that must be addressed and established a process, in fact, to ensure that they were addressed. I understand that a letter to the Planning Minister on 26 June last year emphasising the Chief Minister's approach to the matter has been tabled in the Assembly. I quote from the letter:
I believe it is important that the government move quickly, within current planning guidelines, to determine the viability and suitability of such a development.