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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (14 October) . . Page.. 3117 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

and linking Federal Golf Club as integrated and worthy of protection. Surprisingly, PALM themselves have confirmed - and again this is a quote from evidence provided to the committee:

The proposal would occupy an area which could be interpreted as contributing to the inter-town open space and as such as impacting on the separation between Canberra Central and Woden.

PALM themselves acknowledge that that is an issue. But they go on to qualify their comment and outline reasons why the golf club cannot be considered part of the open space system. PALM also suggests that the preamble in the urban open space policy - which I cited earlier and which saw golf clubs as part of the urban open space network of the Territory - were not part of the Territory Plan. This is outrageous. The suggestion is that a preamble in the Territory Plan is not part of the Territory Plan and cannot be used for interpreting the Territory Plan. Either the preamble says that golf courses are part of our open space system or the preamble says they are not. The preamble clearly says golf courses are part of the formal and informal open space system and they need to be protected.

The decision to include 9.221 hectares of land currently designated as restricted access recreation and part of the golf course's lease as public land, as outlined in this variation, will provide for a greater level of protection of this significant area of woodland and grassland. There is agreement that the area is unsuitable for golfing purposes and that it is deserving of protection for its environmental values. The proposal outlined in the variation tabled by the Minister on Tuesday proposes a public land overlay for the land, but it is proposed to be retained as part of the Federal Golf Club's lease and managed in accordance with a property management agreement with Environment ACT. Considering the widespread agreement on the significance of this site, separate from the residential site, and the need for this site to be protected, there is a strong argument, I believe, for seriously considering its formal inclusion in the Red Hill reserve area of Canberra Nature Park. On this occasion, Mr Speaker, I am able to agree with the majority report of the Urban Services Committee. Yet I do not believe the Government has accepted this recommendation.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the Federal Golf Club do have legitimate concerns about the need to manage and more efficiently control the use of water on their course. However, these issues must be addressed in a transparent and open way. It is not appropriate to allow a windfall gain to the club, or indeed to any other concessional leaseholder, by converting a concessional lease to a purpose with a higher value. This is an indirect and hidden subsidy and a transfer of an asset from the public to the concessional leaseholder. If as a community we believe that it is important to maintain golf courses for their sporting and visual amenity, along with the other benefits that we derive from them, then a direct grant or some other form of assistance would have to be considered. Maybe we need to have that debate if these issues are so important. But I note what Mr Moore said in the public realm earlier this week. He said that if we have spare money lying around there are probably more important uses than subsidising golf courses.

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