Page 298 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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the territory for any matter at all. So, not only was the government attempting to buy these people off; it was attempting to buy them off at a very measly price.

In response to that letter, the advocate on behalf of the families wrote to the chief planning executive. He concluded a fairly lengthy letter with this paragraph:

I look forward to receiving your further advice on this matter so that we can proceed. My hope is that a further round of negotiations will arrive at an offer that my clients can agree and then move forward.

The response to that letter, Mr Speaker, came on 29 November and basically said, “We reject all offers; no further correspondence will be entered into.” It says, referring to the letter that I recently quoted, that the writer of that letter, Mr Higginson, who was the advocate for the family, “has consequently informed the authority that there has been no reason to continue negotiations”.

I have checked to make sure that there is no other correspondence that I have missed. The last correspondence that left on behalf of the rural lessees said:

I look forward to receiving your further advice on this matter so that we can proceed.

The response to that from the chief planning executive was, basically, “We understand that you don’t want to proceed with the matter and we won’t enter into any more correspondence.”

Mr Speaker, this has been the duplicity and the bad faith—and I do not use the words lightly; this is bad faith—and these people have been treated in this way for an extended period. The minister may hang his head and shake it; he should be shaking it in disbelief because the treatment of these people has been appalling.

This minister made an undertaking. He made an undertaking in this place on 18 November. I have read out that undertaking to members today. On 26 August this year, that undertaking was reinforced by a unanimous vote of the previous Assembly. Is this going to be the minister’s out? “Oh, it was the previous Assembly and I’m now in majority government; I don’t have to be bound by that; I don’t have to have any sense of justice, any sense of honour, any sense of relying on my word.”

What has happened is that this minister has shown the rural lessees of this territory that they count for nothing and he has shown individual families that what is most important is that he gets access to this land so that he can build his new town centre—the memorial to Simon Corbell. We will have Corbellville; we will have Simonstown; we will have all sorts of things. Perhaps we will have large boulevards with statues of the minister astride the avenues. This will be done, Mr Speaker, at the price of ordinary, everyday, decent Canberra farmers who are in the process of being dispossessed of their property, their property rights, and will have no opportunity ever to re-establish their businesses, their businesses of long standing, elsewhere.

These are not people who have off-farm income; these are people who do not have big superannuation investments somewhere else. These properties that they have been working, in some cases for 50 years and have been in families for, in many cases, much

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