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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2956 ..

Land sales

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Planning, Mr Corbell, and relates to land speculation and measures aimed at blocking it. Minister, can you advise the Assembly what instructions have been given to PALM in regard to the minister's consent under section 180 of the land act on the sale of vacant blocks of land? Is it a fact, Minister, that PALM has been instructed that in cases where a person buys a block of land and then decides to sell it before having complied with the building covenants, ministerial consent for sale will be given only where the profit does not exceed $5,000, that is, the selling price is no more than $5,000 over the purchase price? Is it also the case, Minister, that PALM has been instructed that, where the profit exceeds $5,000, the additional money will be divided between the government and the owner, with three-quarters going to the government and one-quarter going to the owner?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I have had discussions in past months with officers of PALM relating to the issue of land speculation. This is a serious issue. Land in the territory, as members would be aware, is sold for a particular purpose and when it is sold, it is sold on the basis and with a reasonable expectation that the person purchasing the land will use it for the purpose for which it was sold.

There are circumstances in which people are unable, for one reason or another, to undertake that obligation. It may be because of some family or personal circumstances that result in them not being able to do so. Equally, PALM is aware and PALM has advised me that there is a level of land speculation activity occurring, whereby people purchase blocks with the fairly deliberate intention of never building on them but then on-selling and reaping the reward of the improved value, even it is undeveloped land. Mr Speaker, that is an issue of concern. I have agreed with PALM on a set of guidelines that will manage this process. I cannot recall the details of those guidelines at this moment. I undertake to get that information to Mrs Dunne, hopefully by the close of business today.

MRS DUNNE: I have a supplementary question. Minister, if that is the case, can you advise the Assembly what transpires when there is a loss on the sale? Will the government reimburse the owner for that loss; if not, why not?

MR CORBELL: I have taken the question on notice, Mr Speaker.

Fire safety upgrades

MS DUNDAS: My question is for the Treasurer. Considering that the multiunit property plan released by ACT Housing in June 2000 commented that fire safety upgrades at the Currong apartments were required, why was the expenditure from the Treasurer's Advance of $10 million on fire safety at the Currong apartments in the 2001-02 financial year viewed as unforeseen?

MR QUINLAN: If it was needed and it was not in the budget, there would be a rough chance that it was unforeseen at some stage, wouldn't there?

Ms Dundas: The report came out in June 2000.

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