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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3265 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Further, in response to some comments made by Mr Smyth, I wish to say that the government is investing a significant amount of money in a bus fleet replacement program. Mr Smyth made reference to what the previous government had set aside as part of its overall free school-bus scheme. Indeed, it is important to note that it did all of it in the context of the free school-bus scheme. There was no serious or deliberate attempt to invest further money in ACTION. All it was was part of a scheme to try to bribe the Canberra community to vote them back into office, after all the disasters that they had inflicted on us over the last three years.

I wonder if Mr Smyth's speech line is a bid to come back as urban services spokesperson, Mr Speaker. He was, of course, Urban Services Minister, but now I think he sees that the opportunity is there to grab back the portfolio that he loves so much, albeit in opposition. Of course, my colleague, Mr Wood, is quite happy for there to be no shadow minister for urban services for quite some time. I doubt we will be given that luxury. However, I think it is worth noting, nevertheless, that the Liberal Party is so much at sixes and sevens at this current time that they do not even have someone with an appropriate shadow ministerial responsibility to respond regarding such important public policy matters.

Town centres-development

MR HARGREAVES (6.14): I have been concerned for some time, as a member for Tuggeranong, about connecting the Commonwealth and ACT governments' long-established town centre policies. Successful development of Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong has been fundamentally underpinned by long-standing policies that deliberately create employment in the town centres. Both the Territory Plan and the National Capital Plans have provisions that support the further development of town centres.

I have been very concerned that these long-standing policies have been eroded over the past couple of years by the development of a de facto town centre at the Canberra Airport. That is why I was so amused, last Thursday, to discover that my concerns were, at least in part, shared by no less a body than the Property Council. The Canberra Times reported last Thursday, 19 September, that the president of the Property Council, Mr Noel McCann, had made a speech urging government to increase employment opportunities in Civic to enhance its role as the central business district.

That was when I was overcome with mirth. "Hang on," I thought, "is this the same Noel McCann who is actively engaged in his day job of developing the office park at the Canberra Airport, which is sucking people and business away from Civic?" That is the very thing that he complains about in his speech. Let me quote from the article:

We need to increase employment opportunities in Civic in order to ensure low office vacancy rates there, he said.

Then he actually uttered the following words:

Proposals by the town centres to attract more office development was like "extending the deck of the Titanic then shuffling the same number of deck chairs around it".

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