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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 1982 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The Nicholls report outlines what can only be called some fundamentally revolutionary changes to the administration of the change of use charge in the Territory. The Nicholls report is advocating, amongst other issues, that in the longer term we should move away from a change of use charge in its entirety. To do that, Mr Speaker, is, I believe, to fundamentally fail to recognise the system of land use we have in the Territory, the leasehold system. When the Government charges its change of use charge it is actually charging for the purchase of development rights on that lease. The Territory is giving away its rights, selling them to the leaseholder. It is a charge for the surrender of rights over the lease. To move to a system advocated by Professor Nicholls, which suggests a system similar to that used in New South Wales of a development charge, where the money used will be invested either in capital works or around the area where the development is occurring, fails to recognise what the change of use charge is all about. It is the sale of development rights by the Territory to the leaseholder.

That is a fairly fundamental shift, and I am sure Mr Moore will agree with me. That is a fairly fundamental shift in the administration of leasehold. Indeed, it is basically saying, "Let us try to ignore that leasehold exists". Well, we cannot do that, Mr Speaker. Leasehold is here to stay and we have to work out ways of administering it responsibly. Mr Speaker, that is one of the reasons why the Labor Party believes we need to address the Nicholls report through an inquiry by the Urban Services Committee.

Mr Speaker, I am aware that there is very strong concern out there in the community that this issue is resolved quickly and appropriately, and I believe that my timeframe outlined in the motion addresses those concerns in a reasonable way. Informally, I know that members of the development and construction industry are comfortable with this approach because they want the issue dealt with appropriately. They want the issues nutted out. They want the issues discussed on the floor of this place and they want a decision made. Whilst they would prefer 50 per cent tomorrow, they are prepared to accept 75 per cent to the end of the year, seeing we have already had 75 per cent in place for at least two years.

That brings me to my final point. The Government is saying, "Bring in 50 per cent next week". That is what they are saying. The current rate has been in place for a significant time. The uncertainty has been caused through people being unsure about whether it will remain at 75 per cent or whether it will go up and down. What we are saying, if we pass this motion today, is this: "We accept your concern". The motion will allow for an inquiry and for a debate on the floor of this place by the end of this year, and the legislation will be passed to set the level of what the change of use charge should be. In the meantime the status quo stays. No jump down to 50 per cent, no jump up to 100 per cent, or some other level in between. We stay at 75 per cent until we have debated the issues fully and reached a decision at the end of this year. That is a sensible process, that is a reasonable process, and I ask members to support the motion.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (12.08): Mr Speaker, Mr Corbell closes with the words that the status quo should stay. He said that Professor Nicholls recommends a course of action, but in the interim the status quo should stay. The subtitle of this report is: "Its Impact on Investment and a Consideration of Options". Mr Speaker, as I said in respect of the last motion, the true conservatives over there will do anything to thwart the Government getting on with the job of helping build a better Canberra.

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