Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 417 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
We as an Assembly need to engage the local community, have pride in the Assembly and treat the Assembly with the respect it deserves, especially if we plan to go to the community asking for their support and input on any number of issues, including planning, as is our role.
MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (4.10): Mr Speaker, I note that Mr Corbell began his remarks by criticising the use of cold war language by Mrs Dunne-there was a lack of a sense of humour, I would have thought, in those comments, frankly-but then proceeded to quote the conditions in the 19th century as some sort of more authoritative basis on which to proceed with this debate.
Mr Speaker, members on this side of the house are actually interested in how we can have an effective and contemporary system of planning in the ACT and, more importantly, a system of land development which is going to meet our broad social objectives in this territory. I would ask members who are interested in this debate and are wondering which is the better model to look at how the two models have been used in this territory, and both have been used in the territory in recent years and actually worked, and ask themselves which has actually worked better for the ACT. Is it the model which involves the government in being a land developer or the model which has the ACT leaving it, as is done in most other places in Australia and probably the world, to the private sector? I will come back to that in a moment, Mr Speaker.
The argument put by Mr Corbell is that government's need to assert a primary role in planning for the benefit of all. Obviously, that is true, and we do not dispute that fact. Obviously, no-one else but the ACT government and its various authorities need to plan for the future shape of this city and have ultimate responsibility for the way in which that vision, the way the city develops, turns out. But suggesting that there should be a primary role in developing the territory's land is another matter altogether. That was implied by Mr Corbell; but, clearly, it is not an effective model for the ACT.
We have had, as I have said, previous examples of state development of land. I was fed a reasonably recent example in the development of the Harcourt Hill precinct in Gungahlin just a few years ago. In that situation, the then Follett government decided that it would enter into some sort of partnership with a private sector company, but involve itself in such a way that there would be extensive involvement by the government, and then the government would end up being a guarantor of the company which operated the redevelopment.
It provided a loan facility of $25 million to a Harcourt Hill company in October 1993. That provided an unconditional and irrevocable undertaking by the territory to the Commonwealth Bank to pay any amount outstanding to the ACT in respect of Harcourt Hill by the fifth anniversary of that agreement, that is, October 1998. By November 1997, $16 million of the original facility remained outstanding and Harcourt Hill had other debts and financial requirements for an additional $4 million. There was $20 million of debt in respect of the development of that place which was the responsibility of government to pick up. Every last cent had to be picked up.