Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (12 October) . . Page.. 2984 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
Mr Speaker, the proposal to allow the development of 59 dwellings on the Federal Golf Club's lease is a longstanding and contentious issue. Contrary to the comments made earlier by Mr Hird, the original proposal for 150 dwellings was not presented to this place. In fact, the previous proposal was for only 61 dwellings. There was, in fact, a proposal before that for 150 dwellings. But neither of those proposals was presented to the Assembly. Indeed, this is the first occasion on which the Assembly has been asked to consider the issue of housing on the Federal Golf Course.
The majority report of the standing committee has not given any recognition to the fundamental issues relating to the proper administration of leasehold in the ACT which this draft variation brings about, nor has it properly addressed inconsistencies with the principles of the Territory Plan highlighted during the inquiry by witnesses - or, indeed, the threats to Canberra's formal and informal open space areas which are also raised by this draft variation.
I want to comment, first of all, on the issue of the number of witnesses and the strength of public concern about this draft variation. There were 173 submissions lodged with PALM when the draft variation was first released for public consultation earlier this year. There were 408 submissions to PALM on the development application and the preliminary assessment. If I recall correctly, there were around 150 submissions to the Urban Services Committee on the draft variation itself when the committee commenced its inquiry.
On each occasion, a clear majority of those submissions on this proposal were opposed to it. But both the ACT Government and the majority of members of the Urban Services Committee have failed to respond genuinely to that level of public concern. In fact, one witness made the comment during the public hearing that the community will lose trust in the processes by which decisions are made in the Territory if this draft variation proceeds.
Mr Speaker, why would people think that? People could only think that if they felt that a government had made a commitment to reject this proposal and then had changed its mind. We had to consider that issue in relation to this committee report. It is a pity that the majority of members failed to do that. It is a pity that the majority of members failed to recognise that in 1997 the then planning Minister, Mr Humphries, made the following commitment:
...the Government will reject this proposal and not consider it again...
Of course, as we know, the current planning Minister, Mr Smyth, has now put forward this variation to allow this proposal to proceed. The fact that the current proposal is effectively the same - 59 residences instead of 61 - only highlights why residents generally wonder why they should continue to have faith in planning decision-making processes, yet this fact has been completely ignored by the majority report. Equally ignored by the majority report is the issue of allowing a change to a concessional lease to provide for residential purposes. That is the effect of this draft variation; that is what would occur if this variation were to proceed.