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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (12 March) . . Page.. 928 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

the process of doing so. Through you, Mr Speaker, let me assure the house that this government will be working to ensure that all services provided by Totalcare or whomever will be provided in an efficient and effective manner.

MR STEFANIAK: I have a supplementary question. Treasurer, where will Totalcare obtain the money to pay for the redundancies and how much will they cost?

MR QUINLAN: Certainly, if there is as dramatic a change in Totalcare after the work of the working party as your question implies, there will need to be a funding of redundancies. That may well be an investment in the longer term. If we weren't actually doing something about Totalcare, I have no doubt that you would be asking questions about what we are doing about the operation of Totalcare. At the end of the day, the government wishes for those services to be provided. If we have to invest in the short term in order to make savings in the long term, we will have the courage to do so.

Rural leases

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for Planning. Can you outline what steps the government is taking to provide certainty to rural lessees to rebuild after the January bushfires?

MR CORBELL: This is an important matter. A significant number of rural lessees have been affected not only by the recent bushfires but also by the extended and prolonged drought in the ACT. It is an important issue to address as part of the recovery process. My colleague Mr Stanhope, as Minister for the Environment, is already addressing a range of issues to do with rehabilitation of land, land management practices and so on. But an area that is within my direct portfolio responsibility is rural leasing.

A clear issue emerging from rural lessees is that they are concerned to see that issues around security of tenure are finalised. In that respect we are dealing with those lessees who are eligible for 99-year leases, long-term leases. Of the fire-affected lessees, approximately half have either already finalised their leases or received an offer of a 99-year lease, a long-term lease.

There is a small group of rural lessees who did not take up the previous Liberal government's offer of a long-term lease. I am very pleased to advise members that the government will now make a further offer of a long-term lease, on the same terms, to those lessees who did not accept the previous government's lease offer and who are not affected by any potential future urban development.

There are a number of lessees who are outside any area potentially affected by future urban development and who would be entitled to a long-term lease. Whilst they may have previously rejected the offer, the government will make the offer again, because we think that in the circumstances they should have all those options open to them.

These lessees will be given a further three months to accept an offer on the same terms and conditions as the previous offer. Those lessees affected by possible future urban development will be offered a shorter term lease similar to their current situation and similar to shorter term leases in other potential development areas, such as North Gungahlin.

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