Page 299 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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more than 50 years, are their only investment. These properties are their superannuation. This government and this minister, through their carelessness, their crassness and their greed, are attempting to deprive these people of their superannuation. I give notice to this minister that I will not rest until the Coonan family, the Tully family and the Tanner family receive justice from this minister.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (5.17): Mr Speaker, I am appalled and dismayed by the approach Mrs Dunne takes on this issue. It is nothing but crass politics. It is nothing but an overwhelming attempt to completely disregard the basis on which leasehold administration in this territory has been conducted ever since the territory was established.

She fundamentally misconstrues the way the administration of the leasehold occurs. She raises expectations in a way that is quite incorrect about how the management of rural leases in particular will occur, and she does it, I believe, either for her own crass political advantage or because she simply does not understand how the leasehold is administered in this territory.

The government will not support this today because the motion fundamentally misunderstands the way the government has approached this issue. More importantly, it fails to understand how the leasehold has to be administered under the land act. Mrs Dunne seems to think that a negotiation involves the government agreeing to whatever it is the lessees believe is just for their properties. The government has come to the table and said, “This is what we believe is the appropriate level of compensation for improvements on your property.” We have done that. It is one and a half million dollars—it is not a small amount of money—for a single property. The lessees disagree with that. So they need to come back and say what they believe is a reasonable alternative, rather than saying that they expected it to be $4 million and, if it is not anywhere near that, it is not good enough. That is not a negotiation.

Mrs Dunne’s motion also fails to acknowledge that these leaseholders have not sought to surrender their leases. They have made no formal application to surrender their leases. The government is not seeking to acquire their leases at this time. Yes, the Molonglo Valley has been identified as an area for potential future urban capability; there is no doubt about that. More detailed planning work is required to be done. That work is being done in conjunction with the National Capital Authority.

Because we accept that the leaseholders concerned have legitimate concerns about their future tenure, and because the previous Assembly indicated that it shared those concerns, the government agreed to enter into negotiations on a without prejudice basis to indicate what would be the possible level of compensation if those lessees chose to surrender their leases. And that is what we have done—no more and no less than that.

It is worth making the point that, if the lessees are unhappy with the level of compensation proposed in the without prejudice negotiations, they do have another avenue open to them, and it is something that Mrs Dunne fails to acknowledge. They can initiate formal surrender processes for their leases, the territory can then make a formal offer under the act and, if the lessee is unhappy with that offer, they can seek independent review and arbitration of that offer through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. So, if the lessees really do want to surrender their leases and they really are

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