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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2608 ..

Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: Yesterday we had a little problem about references to public servants. I would remind members that in the back of your standing orders is a statement of May 1997 which sets out the situation if anybody has any doubts about it.


Stamp Duty - Property Development

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. In answers to questions raised at Estimates Committee hearings, the Government revealed that it had agreed, under the inner city revitalisation program, to waive stamp duty on the FAI Property Management development, the Waldorf Apartments. Given that the development proposes to put onto the market 133 apartments, varying in price from $135,000 to $265,000, at an average price of $190,000, can the Chief Minister confirm that the stamp duty forgone would amount to about $710,000?

MS CARNELL: I do not have my calculator with me, Mr Speaker. I think the information was provided to members at the Estimates Committee. If the actual figures were not provided, then we are very happy to provide the exact figures. I think it is really important that those opposite, indeed all Canberrans, support this approach from the ACT Government, simply because I am sure all of us agree that empty office blocks are not something that - - -

Mr Wood: Why are they empty?

MS CARNELL: Because the Commonwealth Government over the last 15 years, especially the last three years, has downsized quite significantly in the ACT. Both former governments have downsized in the ACT. It is certainly not something that this side of the house supports. Obviously the approach of those opposite would be to sit on their hands and say, "The Federal Government did it. It is not our problem". The fact is that empty office blocks are a problem. There is no indication in the foreseeable future that the amount of office space, particularly C and D grade office space, that is currently available in the Civic area is going to be used. It is that simple.

If we do nothing, as those opposite obviously advocate, we will see ageing office blocks just sitting there. If we are going to have a city that attracts tourists, that attracts business and that attracts development we have to have the heart of the city working well. That means that we need to get more people living in our city centre. There is also a safety perspective. A number of pieces of work have been done with regard to safety in the city area. One of the things that have been said is that we need more people living there, more people there all the time. The Government is doing two things - getting more people to live in the central parts of Canberra for safety purposes - - -

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