Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3283 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
To add insult to injury, I noticed in the Canberra Times last Saturday an advertisement for this study calling for public submissions to be submitted before 15 January 1999, right over the Christmas period. I am sure there are going to be lots of people preparing submissions for this study in between the Christmas parties and having a few days holiday with the family. If we are lucky, we might see the results of this study next June. The Government has got itself into a bind now because the sunset period finishes on 25 December 1998.
I wonder, however, just how serious the Government is about reviewing the 75 per cent change of use charge when it has been messing around for two years with getting this study under way. I do not particularly feel like helping the Government out of the hole it has dug itself into over the betterment issue so I will not be supporting this Bill. The Greens believe that the change of use charge should be set at 100 per cent, so I do not see why I should support the continuation of the 75 per cent charge any longer than necessary.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (8.54): Mr Speaker, it is fantastic to be in this Assembly discussing planning issues and to be preceded by two eloquent speakers who put the issues right where they should be. Mr Speaker, it might be embarrassing for Mr Smyth to bring this piece of legislation to the table. It should be embarrassing for him to do so, as indeed it should be embarrassing for Mr Humphries in view of his role in this affair as well. It was quite clear that the legislation was to take effect for a period during which there was to be a sensible academic review into the whole issue of optimising the return to the community from the change of use charge. At the time it was referred to as betterment.
Mr Speaker, it may well be that, in optimising the return to the community, the strong notion that I have held for many many years of 100 per cent betterment all the time will be challenged. I would be happy for it to be challenged. It may be that in times of downturn there is some logic in reducing that rate of 100 per cent. Now, I have to tell you that I am not convinced of that. I think that 100 per cent betterment will give us our most optimal return to the community in the way we deal with change of use charge. It works in Hong Kong. There are no exceptions as have occurred here.
The rate is 100 per cent in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has not had a terrible problem with not being able to get development going. It works extremely well. Mr Speaker, I spoke to the lease administrator in Hong Kong about 18 months ago when I was in Hong Kong. Indeed, I commented on the matter in a report I tabled in the Assembly. There are a series of things that they do in Hong Kong which deal with the problems that we have had with the leasehold system. They take a much harder line. That having been said, that is my view now.
The Government was to commission a study which was to report back to the Assembly. Instead, the Government comes back to us and says, "What we want to do instead is extend the time for this inquiry to take place". In the meantime, of course, the concessions in terms of the change of use charge continue. It is those concessions that I simply believe we ought not be giving. By giving those concessions, we are simply giving away community money.