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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1274 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

This type of development, commonly referred to as a hobby farm or hobby farm development, is not allowed in any part of the ACT as it contradicts a long-held planning principle for Canberra that there should be a distinct boundary between urban areas and rural areas. This principle was adopted because of the desire to maintain a distinctive bushland and rural landscape setting around Canberra. If rural residential development was allowed then the boundary between urban and rural areas would blur, because rural residential development is, in essence, just an even lower density form of urban sprawl.

The principle of maintaining the ACT rural areas as rural has been confirmed in the recent Rural Policy Task Force report commissioned by government. It recommended that rural leases not be allowed to be subdivided, but did accept that planning studies could be done to identify areas not used for primary production in the ACT that may be suitable for rural residential. No wonder the community are flabbergasted.

Mr Humphries: I rise on a point of order. I think Ms Tucker is saying that we should be censured because we support rural residential development. If that is the case that is not what the motion before the house says. There should be an amendment of the motion if this is to be relevant to the motion. It is not relevant to the motion. If Ms Tucker disagrees with rural residential and disagrees with us therefore, that is fine; but that is not what this motion is about. This motion is about misleading the house.

MS TUCKER: Mr Speaker, I am, as the Chief Minister was doing before, building up an argument. Okay?

MR SPEAKER: Thank you. Very well. We will just watch it.

MS TUCKER: I would like to be able to continue. I believe that the planning process in general is certainly associated with the issue of misleading the Assembly and the community because, basically, what we have seen from this Government in the past three or four weeks is an insistence that all is done well. You have misled us, and that is my argument, or one of the arguments. I will continue to explain why I believe also that you have misled the Assembly on the question of the leases. As I was saying, no wonder the community is flabbergasted at government processes. To make things even more confusing and alarming for the Hall community, they were already working with PALM to develop their own strategic plan for the area. This was going to be a staged plan, Hall 98, and Hall 2020. How was this strategic plan meant to fit into the Government's joint venture proposal? There are heritage and cultural issues to be considered. There are environmental issues, community issues, national capital issues and regional issues to be considered. How insulting it is to the goodwill of the community who were prepared to do this work believing there was commitment and support from government.

This sorry saga is enough in itself to warrant a censure motion, but to top it off we then saw a backdown by government which was characterised by inconsistencies and incredible explanations. Three leases? One lease? No leases? Blocks? It is hard to think that the planning Minister would not know the difference. If there has been confusion in the use of language, the point really is that whether or not the developer has relationships with leaseholders should not be the determining factor in selection of the developer anyway.

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