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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 422 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

block of land has been sold, unless there are some more batches somewhere to be released, and it would appear to have been very successful.

There were difficulties and the project needed to be restructured, as we were told by the now opposition, when they were in the government. I would like to look at all that and just see what worked out. The basic premise of the joint ventures, and there were another 10, I think, or getting up to that number beyond Harcourt Hill, was that we provided the land component, for which we got about the same amount of money as we would if we had just sold it at auction, and then we got a very significant amount for every block that was sold after that, and we did not do the development work. On paper, and I believe in the reality of things, it worked quite well for the government. It certainly worked slower than was originally planned. I think that that is where some of the difficulties emerged, particularly with Harcourt Hill. Just as we started there, the caution that we exercised in getting things going was proved to be very sensible because the federal government of the day, the Howard government, came in and slashed growth in Canberra and things stopped for quite a time.

Mr Smyth: No, you had already flooded the market You forget about the flooding of the market.

MR WOOD: No, you misunderstand it, Mr Smyth. The government at the federal level slashed growth in Canberra. We still have not recovered from that. If you look at the population figures today, you will find that we are growing at about one per cent, which is unique in our history. We have been growing at less than that in recent times. In fact, there was a period when our growth rate was sustained only by the excess of births over deaths. We actually had a net loss with people moving out; more of them were moving out than were moving in.

That difficulty was a very significant block in the quick success of those joint ventures, but they worked through and we will now be able to get a closer look at the profit and loss sheet. I think that it is going to show a profit there and look pretty good and it will encourage us in future efforts.

There is no reason why the asset of the ACT in its land ownership should be spread to anybody else but the people of the ACT. There is an absolute logic in that. There are long-term, continuing, successful land developers in the ACT. They have done well and they have been of benefit in many circumstances to the territory. They have done well, but why shouldn't we gain that profit? Why shouldn't we do that well? I do not believe for a minute that we have any lack of skills and ability to do just that, so I totally applaud Mr Corbell's venture here. I look forward to my participation in the government as he brings his proposals forward. I hope that we will look at those joint ventures and, if there is anything to be learned from them, let us learn it. I think the major lesson is to learn that we can do quite well, thank you, out of developing our own land.

As to the planning side of things, Mr Corbell's proposals are very good. Some of the rhetoric, and let us take it lightly, was about state development. Mr Corbell's proposals go a long way to putting development or the inputting of development in the hands of people, the people broadly around Canberra but also those people making suggestions to experts.

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