Page 296 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004
When it was brought back a week later, the minister made some very significant commitments. For the reference of new members, I will read what Mr Corbell said at the time. He had already spoken in the debate and he sought leave to speak again because he wanted to make a statement. He said:
I just want to briefly outline a range of issues that I know members have sought some clarification on subsequent to the debate in the last sitting of the Assembly.
There was a bit of technical stuff, but he went on to say:
… I will ensure that those rural lessees in Belconnen and Weston Creek who formerly have had access to 99-year leases and now only have access to 20-year leases will have adequate compensation, as provided for under the statutory framework, when the leases expire or the land is withdrawn.
The leases in question expire at the end of 2005. Mr Corbell went on to say:
which would have been 17 November 2003—
a meeting was held with the affected lessees and I have agreed to conditions which will allow the surrender of their leases with full compensation rights as determined in the lease and provisions for payout as provided under … the Land (Planning and Environment) Act.
I have also confirmed that the ACT Planning and Land Authority will give top priority to undertake the associated work with surrender of the leases as quickly as possible. I will ensure that the lessees are provided with regular updates on the progress of these matters. At this stage there has been no decision on the part of the lessees to surrender the lease.
I have also agreed that, if the lessees wish to remain for a longer period on the land after the termination or expiration of the lease, the government will be more than happy to look at accommodating those wishes. I trust that this satisfies the concerns of a number of members following the debate in the last sitting.
As a result of that undertaking, Mr Corbell was able to forestall the disallowance of his unjust disallowable instrument. As a result, the leases were converted from 99 years to 20 years. Then, negotiations were to be undertaken. There was almost a full year of negotiation or non-negotiation on this matter, which brought us to the last sitting day of the previous Legislative Assembly. On 26 August I successfully suspended standing orders to bring on a matter of private members’ business and the Assembly unanimously passed the following motion:
That this Assembly:
(1) recognises that the ACT Government has been in negotiation since November 2003 with the Coonan and Tully families in relation to purchasing their rural properties and that no formal offer has yet been made; and