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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 794 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

We have had accusations fly about the owners running it down and not making it work well. There are a number of local shopping centres in the ACT that are just no longer viable. There have been several before the committees over the years because retail patterns have changed. It is well and good to demand that the shops be there to service the population, but the shops have to be viable for the small business people to survive. Indeed, Mr Berry is living in dreamland by saying that there should be shops, there just have to be shops, as the people needs shops. Those shops need to survive. You just cannot put small business people into the position where they are in a shopping centre that is not viable. That is the whole process that we have gone through with variation 64.

It is not the government saying that; it is the urban services committee that said that, and we have the report of the committee. The supposed dissenting report is yet to arrive. This report of the Planning and Urban Services Committee was tabled in October 2000 and last week I tabled the government's response to it, but we are yet to hear whether there is any dissent. What one could say is that there was a unanimous report from the committee because there has been no dissenting report. The committee says, "Get on with it. Make sure there is space for at least one shop, make sure that in the future there is the ability to vary that and make sure that there is continued monitoring of what goes on and that there is consultation." Those opposite will say that they have heard only that people do not want such development.

I have heard both sides of that story. I have had correspondence from people saying, "Would you just do something as we are sick of it. We think it is an eyesore and a safety risk." Others have said, "We want something different. We want our local shops back." The reality is, as proven through variation 64 and through the committee, that having shops at that location is not viable.

Mr Stanhope says that the government is pre-empting the outcome. I am not sure that it is pre-empting anything. These blocks have been on the land release program for some time. Certainly, they would have been in the land release program as of May last year when it was released. In all reasonableness, you would have expected the dilemma with the Latham shops to have been resolved before this time. But it is part of the government's policy with blocks near existing local centres or blocks with access to services to include residential development as an option for those that want to live in these areas next to bus routes, preschools, schools or whatever, because that makes the community more viable and that is good planning, contrary to what those opposite would say. Mr Corbell speculated that it was simply to assist the development. The proof of the pudding is in the things that we have done in the past. We have also released blocks next to local shops to support the local shops. We have done that at Fisher, which still functions, and we have done it at Waramanga, which still functions, so it has nothing to do with the sort of assertion that he makes.

Oddly enough, I think I have even heard Mr Corbell say that it is logical to put more residential development and higher density development next to local, group and town centre shops. Here we have a site that some time ago was determined should be residential because of its access to services, which included the possibility of a shop, but preschools, schools, bus routes and other services as well, and it would be viable to have that. If the one shop that goes into the Latham centre is to survive, the minimum of one shop as required by the urban services committee, the greater the population and the

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