Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2971 ..
MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (5.52): Mr Speaker, I find it extraordinary that Mr Cornwell seems to think that the planning laws as enacted by this place are for some reason an awful hindrance that just gets in the way of providing older Canberrans with their homes. It is both a simplistic and an absurd assertion that the planning laws should not apply to a particular application simply because one member thinks that the applicants have a particularly worthy cause. Either the planning laws apply or they do not, and they do.
I am happy to outline to members what steps the government is taking to ensure that the issues affecting older Canberrans in relation to accommodation are being addressed in a responsible and comprehensive way. I think it is important to make clear that, in discussing aged care facilities, we are talking about residential care, facilities that were more commonly known as hostels or nursing homes.
The government is committed to planning for the needs of our ageing population by working with the non-government sector, private and community sectors to respond to our community's need for more aged care accommodation. There is also a need for an improved involvement with the Commonwealth in the provision of aged care facilities. Mr Cornwell would like to make the argument that this is all the government's fault. The reality is that there are three players. There are the private and community sectors, there is the Commonwealth government and there is the ACT government.
Our commitment to the provision of aged care facilities is being addressed in a number of ways. Members would be aware of my recent announcement that the government has agreed in principle to the direct sale of land in Bruce to the Little Company of Mary/Calvary Healthcare Holdings. Part of the site will be redeveloped for a 100-bed aged care facility, funding for 65 beds of which Calvary has received. It is also proposed that 86 independent living units will be provided on the site.
Further work does have to be done before a final offer of lease can be made and the development can commence. Again, Mr Cornwell's simplistic and quite childish assertions simply ignore the complexity of a direct grant process. The reality is that, every time the proposal for the development changes-in terms of the scale of units, the number of units or the scale of the development-its value changes. It has to be revalued and that, Mr Cornwell, is something that you appear to conveniently forget.
However, the government has agreed to a direct grant of land and the finalisation of this process is now being undertaken. A final concept plan prepared by Calvary will have to be agreed to by government agencies and a preliminary assessment into the impacts of the use of the land undertaken. Again, particularly in the latter case, these are requirements of the land act, and I do not think Mr Cornwell would want the government to undertake a process which is contrary to the land act as approved by this place.
The government is also presently considering an application for the direct sale of block 53 section 8 Garran to Southern Cross Homes, to develop a 65-bed aged care facility plus 18 independent living units on the site. Assessment of the application has progressed well and I expect that a decision on the application will be made by