Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 288 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
All the blocks in this draft variation are located close to a school and areas of open space. Residential development on the land provides opportunities for passive surveillance for children travelling home from school or for people using the open space and associated path network. The development of this area for residential use will increase the public surveillance available in this area, with the aim of providing a safer and more user friendly environment.
The approach which has been approved by the government will ensure that the site continues to provide benefit to the community.
The government has expressed concern in the past about development associated with concessional leases. That is why I directed PALM to undertake a review. In July 2002 PALM released documents providing for the tender of a contract for a full review of the concessional leasing system. The review will examine the various aspects of the policy and administration of concessional leases to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of the ACT community. The review will report within the first half of this year.
This is a very detailed and complex issue, and the government wants to make sure it gets a good basis for dealing with these types of leases into the future. In the meantime, the government has adopted an interim guideline for the administration of concessional leases. Applications for consent to the transfer of a concessional lease or for payment of the concession that applies to it are now being assessed against that guideline. It is unfortunate timing, but the circumstances dictate that it would be unreasonable to delay making a decision on this Territory Plan variation until the concessional leasing review is completed.
The government has investigated the options for resuming the lease. However, the advice I have received is that unless the club is prepared to surrender the lease there is no capacity in the current circumstances for the territory to forcibly resume it. Therefore, the government has had to look at other options available to it. I can, however, assure members that the club will be required to pay out the concessional element of their lease and also pay the change of use charge associated with any lease purpose change.
I would stress that the existing lease is still in effect, so if another club wanted to purchase the lease it could do so and continue to operate a club on the site. That remains a possibility, however a remote one, given that the variation to the Territory Plan, if finalised, will provide an incentive for a higher use.
The government's response to the issues surrounding the site is the best outcome in the circumstances. To reject the variation would result in serious implications for the community, with the very real potential for a run-down and derelict site in the middle of a residential area; financial implications for the Hungarian Australian Club; a lost opportunity to provide quality accessible housing in a good location; loss of a chance to improve safety and urban design outcomes; and the non-utilisation of a parcel of vacant territory land.
The government will not be supporting the disallowance motion.