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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3265 ..

Mr Corbell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is all very interesting, but Mr Hird's question related to whether or not businesses were being moved from the estate. The Minister has been going on for a couple of minutes now, and we are yet to get to the substance of Mr Hird's question. Perhaps you can rule on the issue of relevance and ask the Minister to get to the nub of the answer.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Ministers can answer questions as they see fit.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, it is very important to set the scene. Contrary to what has been put about in public, the department tells me that we currently have 30 licences issued for small businesses operating at the estate, and all 30 are paying fair market value. All 30 licensees have also willingly taken up the offer from ACT Waste for a five-year licence arrangement, giving them more certainty about their arrangements at the estate. Mr Speaker, the lists are there. There is a very great range of activity. There are new clients; there are top clients from previous leases; there are clients who have regularised their leases.

In the time leading up to the transfer of the lease from PALM to ACT Waste, it was not possible to issue long-term leases. To ensure that businesses that we saw as appropriate, particularly recycling businesses, had not only some short-term leases until we could sort it out but had an incentive to stay, there was a peppercorn rent. Due to the inability to guarantee them longer term accommodation we put in their leases an interim arrangement that when the transfer of the lease to ACT Waste occurred they would go on to full commercial leases.

Some of these businesses were offered their sites for the interim period at the peppercorn rent of $1, in recognition of the need to provide them with some assistance to get on their feet. Some of these businesses did not get off the ground. Even with the assistance from ACT Waste, they chose to exit the estate, which is what incubators do. But others came in to follow it up.

However, all the licences issued during this period reflected the ability to have the leases extended in the future, and until such time as their leases expired they were all very much aware that they could either take a walk - there was no obligation to stay - or pay a fair and reasonable rent. It is something they all agreed to, because they all signed the leases.

Mr Speaker, you might recall that in the Assembly last week Mr Hargreaves brought up a business known as Aussie Junk. It is appropriate that people know a little bit about Aussie Junk. Aussie Junk is one of the recycling companies that, very generously, were offered the 12-month interim rental at $1 for the first year. That particular operator signed an agreement which clearly stated that the licence would expire after one year, on 30 September, at which time he could expect to have the rent raised to reflect true market value if he chose to extend the lease.

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