Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 3999 ..
Mr Corbell: No, it's not true.
MRS DUNNE: I am glad he says it is not true-
Mr Corbell: It's not true.
MRS DUNNE: I hope he goes back to the Australian Psychological Society and comes up with a better reason for why these people are being treated like this.
Apart from the issues of justice, there is the issue about what the land use is. At present there is no public purpose for ending these leases. These leases are rural-the Territory Plan says they are rural, the National Capital Plan says they are rural. Mr Corbell seems to be limiting the rights of these farmers before any decision has been made about the future land use and before it is approved.
If we go down this path of making radical changes to land use, we must have a planning review that follows the proper processes, both within the territory and within the federal sphere. Whilst this might ultimately change the land use to the benefit of the broader community, this does not justify an attempt to treat individuals in such a shabby, shoddy way.
I hope what is happening here is not victimisation but there is an air of that. As I said before, some of these people have not been able to access counselling services through the recovery centre and have had to go, at great cost to themselves, to private counsellors. Mr Corbell shakes his head, but I think he needs to find out if this is the case. These people can show me the bills that they have paid; so it seems they have been going to private counsellors for something.
On 29 January, one of these rural lessees was invited to go to Melbourne to talk about rural leasing issues after the impact of the fires. I would like members of the government to explain why, in the course of a conversation at 9.30 at night with this rural lessee, a senior member of the ACT government bureaucracy told this person, "If you speak in public about the fires, bad things will happen to you"? It is interesting, Mr Speaker, that that person, despite that warning, went to Melbourne on 11 March and spoke to farmers about the impact of the fires.
On 12 March, Mr Corbell issued a press release that said everything is wonderful for people with 99-year leases, basically except for the ones that we resume; that these leases affected by possible future urban development will be offered a short-term lease like rural lessees at Gungahlin. These are not like rural lessees at Gungahlin. Rural lessees at Gungahlin have agistment leases. These people have valid property leases where they own everything on the lease that had been issued in 1956. These are different sorts of leases. This is not an agistment lease. This is a valid 1956 lease which has a renewal clause and a withdrawal clause, and this minister would like to take it away.
I ask any members in this house who have an open mind about this issue to think very clearly and please do not act rashly to the detriment of our fellow citizens. If there are members in this place who have an open mind about what should be done today, I would ask them to think very carefully. Do not act precipitately to take away the rights. If you