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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2537 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Moving now to the issue of criteria, what criteria did the Government use in reaching this decision? In the Hansard for 24 August, Mr Humphries referred to "An investment of something like $100,000 in the sustainability of the McKellar shops". That was the criteria the Government itself is wanting to use and claims it was using in providing for the direct grant of land.

I ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, is that the only criteria utilised by the Government to determine the direct grant of land to the developer in this case? Were there any others? I would be interested to know. I would be interested to know what criteria were used in assessing the direct grant, or was it purely the fact that there was $100,000 being put into public infrastructure at the McKellar shops? Certainly, environmental grounds were not part of the criteria considered in this matter. That, the Government itself has admitted. Indeed, as the Treasurer said on 24 August:

When Eco-Land came to the Government initially they had hoped to include innovative environmental initiatives as part of their development. However, because of the small nature of these pilot projects, this is not possible.

Mr Speaker, I draw members' attention to the Property Advisory Council's report of June this year, "Appropriateness of Dealing with Developers Outside a Competitive Process". In the attachments at the back is the determination of criteria for direct grant of Crown leases relating to commercial, industrial, residential and tourism purposes. I assume that this is the most appropriate criteria for the direct grant of land. I may stand to be corrected there, but it would certainly appear to be the most appropriate. Mr Deputy Speaker, the types of criteria outlined here include benefit to the economy of the Territory or the region; contribute to environmental, social or cultural features; introduce new skills, technology or services; contribute to export earnings and import replacement of the Territory or the region. There is a range of criteria there, but the Government does not seem to have drawn on those in this direct grant of land. If they have, we have not heard their explanation as to that matter. I would be interested to know what their assessment was of criteria in that regard.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the Property Advisory Council report proposes to set a new standard in relation to direct dealing. We believe that this report, in itself, is a very good document. Certainly, on most matters, it addresses issues in a very thorough way, and it certainly deals with a range of very important issues to do with direct grant of land. That report highlights some of the matters that should be taken into account by government when contemplating direct dealing. They include a general threshold test in approving an exclusive dealing arrangement which is relevant to property transactions, and then, having regard to all the circumstances, the exclusive dealing will result in a benefit to the public. That public benefit test, Mr Deputy Speaker, includes an exceptional level of net public benefit, exceptional environmental amenity, and fostering of competition through the introduction of new industry participants. The report goes on to say that net public benefits should not just include financial and economic costs, but should also include a rigorous application of net benefit test beyond economic benefits.

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