Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1759 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
impose a penalty for being derelict. I know this will probably impose a similar burden on existing leaseholders, but I do not think we can compromise on environmental issues. I am happy to see proposals showing how this can be eased in, but I believe it should apply to existing and new petrol leases. The significant issue here is that they can develop reasonable restoration plans.
Mr Speaker, this is an environmentally responsible motion and I would seek to have it endorsed by the Government and the crossbenches. We are not calling upon the Government to go to massive expense and we are not calling upon the Government necessarily to pass legislation. We are asking the Government to accept that something serious needs to be done within our society. I urge members to support the motion.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (12.17): Mr Speaker, Mr Hargreaves raised some interesting points in speaking to his motion about the Government's new policy, and I add a few pieces to what he has said. In terms of access to supplies of petrol, I have been assured by all those that I have spoken to that they can access petrol and they do not necessarily have to access it from their existing supplier. Many of them said that they can get petrol cheaper if they are not tied to their current oil supplier. That addresses the concern that Mr Hargreaves raised.
In regard to setting prices and valuations, this Government will never set prices. It is not the role of government to set prices or to tell business whom they can sell their business to, and we would oppose that most vigorously. What we have done in the policy is to actually establish a framework. Mr Hargreaves was quite right in what he said. An oil company could put an unrealistic price on a site that puts it out of the realm of the buyer. To stop this from happening, we have said in the policy that when the two parties cannot agree on what is a real price the matter can go to independent valuation. There is a process set out in the policy that allows that valuation to happen. My understanding at this stage - and I say this with great caution - is that the majority are still negotiating with the oil companies where they are involved. I understand that one, possibly two, may have been sold. But I think we all need to await that.
Mr Speaker, the Government, through its service station policy, sought to ensure that Canberrans continue to have access to service stations at their wide range of locations. The policy requires lessees of service stations to demonstrate that they have not been able to sell it as a going concern before being allowed to redevelop the site. The policy does not relate to the kind of development that may be permitted, nor the requirements that might be imposed on the lessee in the event of approval to develop. These matters, Mr Speaker, are quite rightly dealt with through the development approval process under the Land Act 1991. Restoration, where necessary, of a service station site on which other development has been approved is a standard condition of such approvals and the level of any restoration depends on the new use of the site.
Mr Speaker, the Land Act provides that any person who obtains approval to redevelop and does not comply with those conditions of the approval can be ordered to do so under Part VI of the Act, and failure to comply with an order is an offence bearing a penalty that is set out in Schedule 5 to the Act. Where an application for redevelopment is received, comments are sought from Environment ACT, amongst others, and environmental advice is then reflected in the conditions of the approval.