Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4003 ..
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, the issue that members have to consider today is this: what is the most appropriate way of administering the leasehold so as to protect the public? At the end of the day we are here not to make decisions as they relate to individuals but to make decisions as they relate to our community overall. What is in the public interest? [Extension of time granted.] If members decide it is in the public interest to provide for an effective windfall gain of 70 to 80 years potentially of land value then that is the decision of this Assembly and the government will accept that. But we do not believe it is in the public interest. We do not believe it is an appropriate use of taxpayers' money.
If I can just briefly now deal with the detail of the disallowable instrument. The disallowable instrument relates to leases. Let me put it this way: there are approximately 190 rural lessees in the ACT. About 160 of those rural lessees have accepted the government's offer of a long-term rural lease. Seven rural lessees are in dispute with the government about the conditions of the long-term rural lease. Those rural lessees form the Sustainable Rural Lands Group, of which two lessees in the Molonglo Valley are members, and it is those two lessees who are affected by this decision.
Mr Speaker, I think there has been very strong support for the long-term rural leases policy. Mrs Dunne has said in her argument in favour of the disallowance today that the Labor Party supported this, too, when we were in opposition and now we do not. Well, Mrs Dunne suggests that everyone else was entitled to a 99-year lease except those in areas needed for defined urban development. The actual words were "wherever possible to 99-year leases".
It is worth pointing out to members that lessees in the Booth and Tennent districts also are not entitled to 99-year leases. Again, it is on exactly the same basis that the government is making its decision in relation to Molonglo. In Booth and Tennent they are not entitled to 99-year leases because there may be a need for a new dam-not there will be a new dam, not there will be a new dam in 20 years time; there may be a need for a new dam. And so the previous government decided not to offer a long-term lease to those lessees. It is exactly the same logic that the government is using in relation to Molonglo. There may be urban development in Molonglo and it is not appropriate to grant a long-term lease in Molonglo. It is the same logic, Mr Speaker.
When the Labor Party supported the 99-year lease policy introduced by the previous government it did so on the basis that long-term leases were granted only to those leaseholders who were not holding land needed for urban development or for other public purposes. The Labor Party has always taken the view that the capacity for the city to grow or to use land for public purposes is paramount and where lessees are not affected by those sorts of circumstances, they should have certainty. That is why we support the 99-year lease policy. But we have never supported it in relation to Tennent and Booth because of the potential for a third dam for the territory-they need to be reserved as such and the leases need to reflect that. We are taking exactly the same approach in relation to Molonglo.
Mr Speaker, that is the basis of the government's decision, that is the rationale behind the government's decision and those are the facts. Not conspiracy theory, not appeal to emotion-the facts. I would simply ask members to think carefully about the public