Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3284 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Mr Deputy Speaker, the debate we have had during the day has been about the sale of ACTEW. It has been about how we protect the community assets. How do we deliver in the best way for the community? How do we raise revenue to be able to do the things that we need to do in government? How do we get that balance right?
This legislation ought to be an embarrassment to the Government. It is something that the Liberals hold dear to their hearts, but it is something the Liberal Party simply has wrong. It is something it has an opportunity to resolve by ensuring that the impact study commissioned by the Government in late 1998 will manage to examine the effectiveness of the current charging system. I am referring to the explanatory memorandum. When this matter was originally resolved, Professor Nicholls was actually named by the Government. We knew who was doing the inquiry, yet it is only now being commissioned. That is a serious omission and I cannot help wonder whether or not it is deliberate.
The Minister is new to the portfolio and maybe he does not know. Mr Humphries might be tempted to say that it was a matter of being incredibly busy or something to that effect. It seems to me that we have a chance to maximise our revenue to allow development to continue full-on as it does in Hong Kong. That is what we should be doing.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I will be opposing the Bill because I believe that what we should be doing is allowing the system to go back to 100 per cent betterment while the matter is reviewed. The Government has had its chance to do this review. I should point out to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and members of the house that when the Cabinet considered this matter - it will not surprise you to learn this - I stood aside from Cabinet, as I do from time to time.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (9.00), in reply: Mr Deputy Speaker, I too have to say that I am somewhat disappointed it has taken this long.
Mr Kaine: You are not embarrassed?
MR SMYTH: No, I am not embarrassed about it because, as Mr Corbell has acknowledged, in working towards getting a set of terms of reference that work and cover all the issues, and taking some time in which to speak with Professor Nicholls, what we have now set in train will be a very valuable exercise for the Territory. I have some disappointment, but I would rather be a little disappointed and a bit slow off the mark in this regard than get it wrong again. As all have said here tonight, it is very important that we get this right. In our discussions with Professor Nicholls, he suggested some amendments to the terms of reference that would allow him to look at the matter in totality, so that what we can come up with is a clear position for the way forward for property development in the ACT.
The Government is asking for a 12-month extension, not in expectation that it will take 12 months, as Mr Corbell has already rightly pointed out. Professor Nicholls' own timelines say that he will have the report to me in early June. The Government will take a short time to consider it and go through the process, but then it will need to go back to the community. One of the ways that it may well go back to the community is through the Urban Services Committee for discussion and further public input. I note what