Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1703 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
What we are seeing now with the establishment of the Office of Asset Management is the formalisation of this terrible process that occurred in relation to Hall/Kinlyside. Far from the Government learning its lesson about the importance of having the land allocation function and the planning function closely coordinated, the Government has split them apart and has put in charge of land allocation people who, really, when it comes down to it, are interested in the dollar rather than in a good planning outcome. That is the fundamental problem with the establishment of the Office of Asset Management.
As I have demonstrated, both with section 56 and with Hall/Kinlyside, this sort of process which the Government is embarking on, this can-do process, whilst it may get outcomes, makes mistakes, and it places the Territory at risk in terms of the appropriate and effective management of its land resources. For that reason, Mr Speaker, we believe very strongly, on this side of the house, that the Office of Asset Management is too powerful an organisation with too little focus on good planning outcomes for it to be good for this city.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (9.19): Mr Speaker, just briefly, I am very pleased with the division that this Government has put in place because it is sensible and it is reasonable. If, as the Opposition would have us believe, there is a crisis in planning in this city, then that crisis exists only in their minds. It is like the Kubler-Ross death and dying thing for the Labor Party in planning. First we have this total rejection from the Labor Party that they have ever done anything wrong in planning. I do acknowledge that Simon Corbell, on the last sitting day of the last session, did admit that they had made mistakes, although he is yet to detail them or to apologise for them.
Then we have this denial phase when they say they have never done anything wrong; they have never had a Harcourt Hill which will ultimately cost this Government, against advice given to that Government, something like $20m. Then we have anger: "We found this conspiracy. We have Kinlyside. We are outraged. It is mock; it is wonderful". Now we have this grieving process. What we really need in the planning debate is some acceptance by the Opposition that we are getting on with the job; that this Government has been re-elected to continue the job of sound financial management of the ACT; that this Government has been elected to carry on and build a better city, to make it a great city. This Government is getting on with the job.
You can denigrate good public servants by calling them the can-do merchants, but I suspect that a lot of people in this city are quite pleased that we do have a few can-do merchants in this town. They are the great builders, the great planners, the great people who have got on with the job of building Canberra.
I think it is about time we got from the Opposition a list, as Mr Corbell alluded to, of their mistakes, and perhaps an apology to the people of Canberra for the glutting of the retail market, for the driving down of prices, and for the destruction of the building trade that occurred under Labor that has taken us almost four years to restore. Are we restoring it? Yes, we are. Is unemployment on the way down? Yes, it is. Things are going ahead. What we are talking about, Mr Speaker, are the lost opportunities here that Labor squandered in their 13 years in government federally and their many years in government here.