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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1172 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

the legal removal of the fuel tanks". The Minister also noted that the Government then had the right to resume the lease after 12 months if the leaseholder refused to use the site as zoned. My question is this, Minister: Given that the site has been fully fenced and that the underground fuel tanks have been removed, will you confirm that approval was sought and given by PALM before these actions took place? Secondly, has Ampol lodged a development application or sought a lease variation for the site?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I will have to check with PALM on those issues and get back to the member.

MR OSBORNE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Now that the site has been disused for just under 21/2 years, do you intend to enforce your Government's policy on the use of service station sites and resume the lease so that another service station may begin to operate at that location?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, as I think Mr Osborne would know, Mr Humphries put out a draft policy on disused service station sites just before the last election. This is an issue that affects all of us, and it is an issue that affects many of the suburbs of Canberra. I took over the portfolio after the election last year. There was further discussion and in July 1998 the Government put in place its policy on disused service stations. It set out clear criteria on how they would be used and how service station operators or owners could go about redeveloping those sites. To date we have had many discussions with different owners and with the petrol companies about this. The policy is working. There was a 12-month period from July last year, which would be July this year, that gave companies and owners time to put their affairs in order. Come July this year, if they have not complied with the policy, I will be enforcing it to its full.

ACT Housing Properties

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question is also to Mr Smyth as Minister for housing. Minister, on Tuesday I asked you about the neglect of houses that had been boarded up or just forgotten. They were the empty ones. Today I want to ask you about the neglected houses, desperately in need of immediate maintenance, that have people living in them. Your own documents indicate a shortfall of millions of dollars in needed maintenance funds. Every day tenants are being told there are just no funds for that urgent maintenance, a fact confirmed in your answer to a question on notice that you gave me a little while ago. Minister, how do you propose to deal with this crisis?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, this is an issue of great importance and it is an issue that affects many people in the ACT. The Government has made no bones about the fact that there is a time for change, and it is rapidly approaching for the housing stock. The stock that we have is aged and it does not meet the needs of tenants. It does not meet it in terms of the allocation that they would be entitled to, and it certainly does not meet it in terms of location. We are working on that. In terms of maintenance, we provide maintenance where it is requested, and we have an ongoing maintenance program. That funding is devolved down to the regions so that the regions can allocate funding as is appropriate and to meet the needs of tenants.

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