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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1698 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

However, I am yet to see any real detail on what this land account will be about and how it will work. Stein recommended a statutory body to run a land account. This is not exactly what Stein proposed, but it is at least a step in the right direction, and we will be watching closely to see exactly what is proposed in the next few months.

The other issue I must raise is the operation of the Office of Asset Management in terms of planning. It would seem to me that some very important strategic planning functions are effectively being taken away from our planners, from the Planning and Land Management Group, and being placed in the hands of the Chief Minister's Department. The Chief Minister's Department does not have planning expertise.

Ms Carnell: It has all these people from Planning. Where do you think we got the people from?

MR CORBELL: The Chief Minister's Department does not have the strength of overall coordination in planning to do the sort of work that I believe goes hand in hand when it comes to land management and, more importantly, land allocation, which is the role of OAM. We are seeing, for instance, OAM coordinating the release of section 56 in Civic, which is the car park site between the Griffin Centre and the Canberra markets building. Basically, that land is being released for a major redevelopment. That was a decision entirely coordinated by the Office of Asset Management. The question I would ask is this: Where is the overall strategic vision of the development of our city, and what is the role of PALM in this process? I feel very strongly, and the Labor Opposition feels very strongly, that what we are seeing is PALM being reduced to a regulatory role which basically monitors and makes sure that developments accord with the guidelines and the requirements of the Territory Plan, whereas the decisions about where development takes place and what sort of development it can and cannot be are really being driven by the Office of Asset Management.

Mr Speaker, I believe that that is an inappropriate development. That development really weakens the overall planing of the city. It places a far stronger emphasis on financial outcomes rather than on good planning outcomes and good design outcomes for our city. So that development, Mr Speaker, is one to be regretted. I understand, as the Chief Minister interjected earlier, that there are staff who have been transferred from the Planning and Land Management Group to the Office of Asset Management. I am also aware of widespread concern in the Planning and Land Management Group at the transfer of these responsibilities out of their area, for the very reason that I stated earlier - that almost certainly it will lead to a weakening of our overall planning process in terms of a coordinated approach to land allocation and strategic metropolitan planning in Canberra.

Mr Speaker, the Office of Asset Management is responsible for the management of a large range of government buildings, particularly older buildings which are being reused, and I want to highlight a particular example, the old Hackett primary school. The primary school there is no longer used as a school; it is being used by a number of community organisations. I received a complaint from a constituent who lives opposite Hackett primary who basically said that the building was falling down, was not being maintained properly, and asked what the Government was going to do about it.

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