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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2531 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

It is just not good enough for Mr Humphries to give assurances that the community is getting benefit from this redevelopment. Proper process has not been followed and this has resulted in one building company getting the rights to build a fairly ordinary but quite profitable townhouse development next to McKellar shops, to the exclusion of all other builders in town. The same thing will soon happen at Fisher shops unless the Government takes action to address the concerns I have raised today.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (4.13): Mr Deputy Speaker, I have listened to the concerns that Ms Tucker has raised in respect of the granting of land at McKellar to Tokich Homes. I think I need to put on the record that I see two distinct aspects of this issue that she has raised. There was apparently a third one originally, and that was whether this was an environmentally sensitive kind of development, but I do not think she presses that point in this debate.

Ms Tucker: That is why the grant was given. It was supposed to be and it was not. The grant was given because that was supposed to be the special quality, so it is quite an important factor. Why did you give the land?

MR HUMPHRIES: Okay, Mr Deputy Speaker, she makes that point as well. I will come to that point first. She raises an issue with respect to the question of process, and how the process was used to bring this development to the stage where agreement was made, a lease was granted and development began. I see two separate issues about the way in which the issue has been before the house. One is the process used to take the issue from the point where the Government made an announcement about wanting to encourage development around local centres, and how it wanted to develop innovative development of that kind which would have the incidental effect of supporting local centres which were otherwise in some trouble of not being viable.

Then there is a slightly separate question and that is the question of what level of support or activity or innovation was necessary with respect to the kind of development that was being talked about that would warrant the applicants receiving the benefit of not having their venture or their application subject to competitive forces. In other words, why a person should be able to bid for land and have it directly granted - that is directly sold to them - rather than have to bid for it at some kind of auction or by some kind of tender.

On that second question of whether, as a matter of policy, the level of innovation was of a sufficiently high order to warrant the benefit that was being conferred and was adequate for the purposes of directly dealing with land, I have indicated already, as I said to the house yesterday, that, as the Minister now responsible in a full sense for asset management within the Department of Treasury and Infrastructure, I feel there is a need to review that position and see whether the approach that has been adopted and is being pursued at the moment is the right approach.

I came to the Assembly on Wednesday, admittedly with some surprise, finding that in the case of the McKellar shops the $100,000 that was being spent on the revitalisation of the shops was not additional to the purchase price being paid by Tokich Homes.

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