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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 793 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

The practice of refusing to operate a lease in accordance with its lease purpose raises a question about how long someone should be able to get away with it. I suppose the owners at Latham say that they have one shop being operated, so you cannot do anything to them. I just think that it has been pretty much a game that has been played by the owner and developer in this case to try to grind down the community and they have won over this government on the release of a piece of land nearby for residential purposes when their matter has not been settled, which just shows how weak and pathetic this government is when it comes to sensible planning. The government will not be thanked for that, because once it is over it is done for good.

The viability of the Melba shopping centre demonstrates that there are possibilities for the shop owners and so on in Latham. To deny that is to delude oneself. I just think that this has been a tawdry little experience from go to whoa and, on the basis of the government's opposition to Ms Tucker's motion, it looks as though the government has been smitten by this tawdry approach. As I said, I think it shows their shallowness on planning and their absolute belief that the market will determine everything. As I said in an earlier debate, people are sick of the economic rationalist approach, they are sick of all the privatisation and they are sick of all the markets ruling the world approaches which have been taken by governments in the past and continued by people who are still living in the past. We are in 2001. It is about time people started to behave as if we were.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.33): Mr Deputy Speaker, we have had a lot of rhetoric here today. The first question posed was: why release it for residential development? The answer is: for the same reason that we released land close to the existing shops at Waramanga for residential development and the same reason that we released it close to the Fisher shops. It is because these sites are next to services. Members opposite will come back and say that there will not be any services there. The Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Services said that they think that this has gone on for long enough. Why do they say that? It is because they have listened to the community. There is always criticism about the process that the government just does what the government wants to do. The urban services committee's report said that the prolonged period of uncertainty about the future of the Latham local centre should be resolved as soon as possible. This leads to a resolution.

They have also said in their report that whatever is built there must be adaptable, that there needs to be a minimum amount of retail commercial space, 100 square metres, and that the option should be retained for future commercial use even if the interim uses are residential, so we are talking about adaptable accommodation here, an adaptable building. The lease and development conditions for block 3 section 31 say that any development must be compatible with block 1; so, in terms of any development that takes place on block 3 of section 31, block 1 of section 31 must be determined before that can happen.

Mr Berry, oddly enough, accuses us of living in the past. He asks, "Why would you do this? Why would you go ahead with residential development at this time?" It is because it does make good planning sense, it certainly does. If you have one shop there and you want to grow more shops there, logically, the more people you can put in that general vicinity the more likelihood you will have of success for that one shop, and ultimately more shops. We need to make sure that whatever goes in there does have a future.

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