Page 557 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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that it is responding to current and projected aged care needs. It may well be trying now to paint a picture of doing something and Mr Corbell may well seek to appear as action man, but the fact remains that for the last three years we have put up with delays, reports, analysis and hand wringing.

The government has had ample opportunity to ease the planning regime for aged care facilities. Instead, for its first term it did nothing. It created a policy, albeit in December 2003, some two years after it came to office. St Andrew’s Village has been seeking this land for a significant amount of time—for around four years, I think—and the government certainly needs to take responsibility for the significant delay.

I welcome the fact that this variation has been finalised. I welcome the fact that the government, only after being told that it needed to do something to provide further aged care land bank sites, has commenced to do something. But it would still seem to be too little and too slow, and it results in unnecessary delays for aged care places in the ACT.

I note Mr Hargreaves’s comments a few moments ago about silly proposals. I do not know which proposals for aged care facilities he is referring to as silly. Perhaps he could enlighten the house on that at some stage.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (11.19): Mr Speaker, I want to comment on some of the things that Mr Seselja has quite succinctly put. We have from the government an appearance that it is doing a lot for aged care, yet the fundamental block is still the planning process and the cabinet process to approve direct grants of land. Until the government addresses that, we will go through this continual charade of the government saying, “Here we are doing stuff. We have set up the land bank. It is all the commonwealth’s fault”. It is amazing how much is the commonwealth’s fault in this territory.

I need to point out again to the Assembly that anyone who blames the feds for everything that goes wrong should remember that there has been a capacity out there for 200 beds for two to three years but the facilities have not been built because of the planning system and the failure of cabinet to make decisions. There are a further 505 beds in the offing—I think that something like 160 were released the other day—and they will now go through this same process that this government has established.

The other interesting thing, of course, is the use of urban open space. We always maintained when last in government—and still maintain—that it was appropriate to review the use of land to make sure that it was being used in the best interests of the community. Of course, Mr Corbell always beat the drum about rampant development and how there was going to be cement and buildings on every bit of open space in the ACT.

Mr Corbell promised to hold a referendum in the first term of this government about locking away all the urban open space to save it from those rampant developers and the nasty Liberals. I might have missed it at the election, but I do not recall the referendum being held. Indeed, it was not until very late in the piece that a green paper version of a DVP was put out by the minister to cover up his lack of action on this issue.

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