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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2321 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

The Standing Committee on Urban Services considered the draft variation and in report No. 27 of June 1999 endorsed the proposal. I would thank the Urban Services Committee. They get through an enormous amount of work and they work very hard to try to keep up with the workload that is directed their way.


Paper and Ministerial Statement

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (4.32): Mr Speaker, I present for the information of members the information requested by Assembly resolution of 24 March 1999 in relation to the Narrabundah long-stay caravan park, and I ask for leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, in response to the Assembly's resolution of 24 March 1999, I now table the Government's response. The Government announced in March 1999 that it had decided to sell the caravan park as a going concern. ACT Housing's core business is to provide public housing for people who meet the eligibility criteria. None of the residents of the caravan park have been assessed against these criteria unless they have separately applied for public housing, and the Government's position is that the proceeds from the sale of the park could better be used to fund the core business of providing appropriate public housing.

The Government is sympathetic to the situation of the residents and is keen to provide them with additional certainty, as well as ensuring that the lease for the caravan park is for a caravan park and not for a broad range of uses. The Government proposes a number of extra protections. The lease will provide for the continued operation of the park for five years from the date of issue. In addition, the sale documents will require the buyer to enter into a contractual arrangement to ensure that the park continues to operate as a going concern for the same period. This contract will be backed by a bank guarantee which will protect the Government and ACT Housing from costs which might otherwise be incurred in housing the proportion of residents who might need public housing in the event that the park closed earlier.

As well, Mr Speaker, before settlement, ACT Housing will offer a 12-month permit, payable fortnightly in advance, to any resident whose account is not in arrears. This arrangement should be attractive both to residents and to the prospective buyer, who will have a good idea of the number of residents who wish to stay in the park. It will also more closely align with the timeframe of a standard residential lease. In addition, Mr Speaker, the new owner may also choose to provide residents with the option of subleases at an appropriate price.

Residents have sought additional conditions, including rent ceilings and a longer period of guaranteed operation. The Government does not believe such conditions are necessary. Fees have not increased since January 1994, and a survey of other long-stay parks in the area confirms that the fees at the Narrabundah park are not the cheapest in the area. The lowest site fee if $50, compared with $51.35 plus power for a family of

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