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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 1993 ..

MR CORBELL (12.41): Mr Speaker, I am going to close the debate. Again, I am grateful for the support of members today. I take issue with Mr Humphries' assertion that this is an elongated process. This process has a very reasonable timeline considering the delay the Government has undertaken. I take issue with Mr Humphries' argument that we want to delay it further because the Government has delayed it. The reason that members of this Assembly were saying to the Government, "Get the report to us", was that we knew we were going to have to debate it and discuss it. We knew we were going to have to consider it further and we did not want to string it out any longer than necessary. We did not want to do that. Mr Humphries cannot come into this place and say, "Because we took a long time, you should act quickly". We still have to consider it in an appropriate way, and that is what I am proposing today.

Mr Speaker, the debate about betterment is an issue which has been around for a long time. The debate about land title in the Federal capital has been around for even longer. In fact, I would argue they occurred at the same time. Mr Speaker, I was reading a book a little while ago about the debate over where the national capital should be located. It was the first Federal Labor Government under Watson who put in place legislation for land title in the Territory. The Federal Parliament debated it then. I forget the exact year, but the Watson Labor Government, back in the early years of this century, proposed legislation for land title in this Territory and said that land title should be leasehold. Even back then the conservatives stood up and they said, "This is nationalisation of land. The world is going to collapse". Well, the world did not collapse and the system of leasehold in the Federal capital worked. It worked to provide for the orderly development of the city.

Why do I bring that into the debate, Mr Speaker? Because the issue of land title is fundamental to the issue of betterment. Who should receive the benefits for improvements on the land? Should it be the person who holds the lease? Should it be the person who owns the land, or the people who own the land? The issue about betterment is fundamentally about that argument and whether there is room somewhere in between for both.

Professor Nicholls, in his report, made some very interesting comments about the impact of betterment in the Territory. He made one comment which I would like to read into the Hansard. He said:

The difficulty in obtaining (and/or the unavailability of) appropriate data required for aspects of this study made it difficult, if not impossible, to make comparisons which would have helped to strengthen the analyses discussed in this report.

Indeed, there was even one submission, which he quoted at page 51 of the report, that indicated that aspects of the development approval process were perhaps even a more significant impediment to investment than the change of use charge. But, Mr Speaker, there is no concrete evidence, there is no data, that backs up Professor Nicholls' assertion that the anecdotal evidence should be accepted and 50 per cent should be implemented.

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