Page 302 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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We are prepared to offer these lessees a further lease, on a short-term basis, of 20 years. That is the offer on the table. The lessees do not want to accept that; they believe they should have 99-year leases. We do not agree. They now want to contemplate surrendering their land and we have made an offer on an informal basis. That has not been accepted. They now have another avenue open to them, and that is to initiate formal surrender and arbitration through the AAT if they are unhappy with the ACT government’s offer.

I have circulated an amendment to Mrs Dunne’s motion. It outlines these issues and, I believe, reflects more accurately the issue as it pertains to these lessees. I move:

Omit all words after “That this Assembly”, substitute:

“notes that:

(1) the ACT Government, through the ACT Planning and Land Authority, has entered into good faith and without prejudice negotiations to establish a valuation of the lease improvement for the Coonan family, who are rural leaseholders in the Molonglo Valley;

(2) the relevant leaseholders have not made a formal application to initiate surrender of their leases;

(3) the ACT Government is not seeking to acquire the relevant leases at this time, as more detailed planning is being undertaken in the Molonglo Valley to determine its potential urban capability; and

(4) that, should the relevant leases be either surrendered or acquired, the relevant lessees have available to them independent review of any compensation subsequently offered.”

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.32): Apparently, the last time the Assembly looked at these issues, in August this year, it passed a very similar motion to this one and, as has been recorded by Mrs Dunne, the issue dates back to November 2003 when the government, with the support of the Greens, changed the lease entitlement to a number of rural leases in the Belconnen and Molonglo areas.

I would like to remind the Assembly that part of the reason the Greens supported this change was that the government agreed to negotiate with the affected leaseholders under the terms of their existing lease. Furthermore, in that initial discussion at the end of last year, the point was made very forcefully by the leaseholders, and acknowledged by other parties, that timeliness in resolving the matter was as significant as the dollar value. In that context, it was also acknowledged that one of the families in particular is quite old, has lived on these properties for many years and was finding having the matter unresolved particularly difficult.

I know that arguments can always be made that this is a complex issue. But I do not think it is stretching the point to say that having an offer finally put on the table in September of this year was very slow. Furthermore, while initial discussions in November 2003 implied a fairly open process of negotiation, it is worth reminding the

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