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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 1986 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Speaker, it is important that we send a signal today that we are in favour of investment in the ACT and that we are in favour of the jobs that such investment will bring. I think it would be a sad day if the Assembly did not stop something that quite clearly, in Professor Nicholls' words, is an impediment to investment and an impediment to our future. We should change it now and then we should come up with a system long term that will allow a secure future for all of us. I have moved those amendments in the name of the Government. We seek to amend this motion of Mr Corbell's because we believe that it is about time that we removed the impediment that the change of use charge is on investment in the ACT.

MR WOOD (12.18): Mr Speaker, I wish to support Mr Corbell's motion and to speak against these nonsensical amendments. I have heard this argument over the years. It has been well said over a long time, but wrongly said. I read the report we are talking about today and it is wrong. You have only to look at the history of the ACT to see that there is no impediment to development by use of the betterment charge. I prefer the word "betterment". There has just been no impediment.

Mr Smyth: Why ask for a report if you are going to ignore it?

MR WOOD: You tell me of any time in the history of the ACT when we have been short of commercial or retail space, or when there has not been an investment because the developers would not come here. Tell me of any time that has happened. What about that period of great expansion started in the late 1960s? Lend Lease, Civil and Civic, whoever the firms were, were happy to come in here, and it was very profitable for them.

Mr Smyth: The betterment charge then was 50 per cent. You make the case. You proved the case.

MR WOOD: That is right. I am very proud of the fact that I raised it to 100 per cent, where it should be. What was the most successful development company in Australia? It was certainly a couple of years ago. Tell me that, Mr Moore.

Mr Moore: Capital Property Trust.

MR WOOD: And where did they make their money at that time?

Mr Moore: Here in Canberra.

MR WOOD: Here in Canberra. What is the situation now? Mr Smyth says we are going to starve development. We have buildings here that the Commonwealth is going to knock over. We have more empty space than we have had at any time. That is what is holding up development. There is not the demand. Of course, Howard has killed it all off. There is no demand.

The record of this city shows that betterment is no impediment. Absolutely not. I have had long briefings. I have not got the facts and figures with me at my desk at the moment, but the firms make their money in many ways. The ACT community historically made some money out of the increased value that changes bring, but much

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