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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (14 October) . . Page.. 3132 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

I well know that because I was the relevant Minister for a period, as has been said today. There is no more consistent feature of Canberra's history than disputes about leasehold, and I guess they will continue in the future. The leasehold system has much diminished from what it was in those early days. I would refer those who profess an interest today to the book Canberra in Crisis by Frank Brennan, which is a very fine work. It does need to be updated because much has happened since then. But the leasehold system today is hard to define, because it has been so much changed and there are so many different views about it.

I do not support the development at this golf club; it should not go ahead. I have been consistent in that regard over a period. The proposals for development there emerged towards the end of my time as Minister. Whilst I acknowledged that a proposal could emerge, as all lessees have the right to develop proposals and to ask, I gave signals at the time that it would not meet my favour. It has been well said today that I agreed on the Belconnen, Capital and Yowani proposals and others. The conversion of concessional leases and variations to concessional leases have long been a part of Canberra's history. Indeed, some members here will recall, just ahead of self-government, some very controversial changes to concessional leasehold - the Churches Centre in Civic, for example. So we were born into the controversy about variation to concessional leases.

My principal reason at that time for being negative about any development at the Federal golf course was for its disruption to amenity. It was simply not a suitable place for change. There was considerable intrusion on the natural environment and considerable intrusion on the adjacent urban amenity. Obviously, at that time I did not have objection, in principle, to changes to concessional leases because we had made them.

The changes to concessional leases and to other leases, certainly to the leases for the golf courses that have been raised today, were consistent with the then Government's urban consolidation program. I think members agree, amid some disputes, that it is sensible to consolidate and not carry on for ever with this awfully expensive expansion at the edges. The developments that Mr Smyth mentioned were consistent with that urban renewal program.

I might point out, to repeat what Mr Smyth said, that they returned considerable revenue to government. There was financial benefit to government. There was also financial benefit to the lessee. The financial benefit to government was not as great, it was subsequently pointed out, as it might have been. Think of the three golf courses that have been cited today. Firstly, Belconnen golf course. Nobody knows that the development is there. It is tucked away in the middle of the golf course. Who knows about it? It was eminently reasonable at the time to do that. The development at Yowani faces either the golf course or a major road; Capital, likewise. But the situation with Federal is very different. There is a natural environment there and there are residents who would be affected. My situation then was that I was not for it and that remains the case today.

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