Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2288 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, as the Minister responsible for infrastructure and asset management, I will take that question. I was also involved much earlier in this process in tabling the disallowable instrument as Minister for Planning in 1997 that gave rise to such applications. Mr Speaker, members will recall that the Government's policy has been to facilitate development around local shops, particularly local shops that are under some threat of closure or reduction in services, in order to be able to generate a level of community sustainability; in other words, to allow them to continue. The proposal that came forward in this particular respect for McKellar shops was one that was designed to produce the kind of housing that would support McKellar shops that we saw as having benefit to the community.
Originally the Government was approached by people indicating that they were associated with an organisation called Eco-Land or Eco-Land Developments. A number of individuals were also associated with that application. The processing of the application for land to be developed around McKellar shops took place over a number of months in 1997 and 1998, and at one point it became clear that the exact nature of the organisation or persons to whom the land was to be sold was not clear. The Territory initially relied on the information in the application. As part of the application, three people, John Tokich, Ante Tokich and Jason Krizaic signed statutory declarations verifying that the statements made in the application were true.
At the time the application was made and in the processing of the application the Territory assumed, on the basis of the application itself, John and Anthony Tokich's involvement in the Eco-Land group and Mr Gulan's letter of 30 July 1998, that it was dealing with appropriately authorised representatives of the Eco-Land group. The Government Solicitor's Office was asked for advice and that office advised that it was appropriate for the Territory to rely on the information contained in the application, including the statutory declaration, when processing the application. The Government Solicitor further advised that, based on the application, the only legal entity to whom the lease could have been granted was Tokich Homes Pty Ltd. If the lease had been granted to any person other than the applicant, the Territory would have been liable to a claim from Tokich Homes Pty Ltd.
Eco-Land, I understand, was registered as a business name on 13 September 1996. The register shows, only this month, that the person who registered that name, Ms Kylie Lenihan, cancelled the registration of the name Eco-Land, and on the same day, that is, 20 August 1999, the name Eco-Land was registered with the proprietors of Tokich Homes, being Anthony and John Tokich and Tokich Homes Pty Ltd. So, Mr Speaker, there has been confusion about the nature of the applicant that came forward originally under the banner of Eco-Land, but I am satisfied that the people involved in that application supported the application, that it is fair on the basis of legal advice to deal with Tokich Homes Pty Ltd on the basis of what went before, and that it therefore was reasonable for the Government to provide a lease to that organisation to construct the homes around McKellar shops that meet the objectives the Government has set down for local centre redevelopment.