Page 3148 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005
going on within its surplus space. Leases and licence agreements have been issued when surplus space has been identified. However, nothing in this world is permanent and every now and again there are changes and greater imperatives. For example, let us say we leased out surplus space in a school that was no longer a school. If there were a change in the demographics of that suburb and we had to rejuvenate it as a school again then the education imperative would transcend that of the occupants of that premises.
However, it is true that the government honours licence agreements and leases that have been taken out over time. When those leases and licence agreements expire, the government has another look at those premises to see whether it has a reason to use those premises itself. Let us take an example out there in the ether at the moment. I would argue that, if we have agency staff in substandard demountable accommodation and, because of the conclusion of the lease, surplus space becomes available within that same set of buildings, there is an obligation on the part of the government to rehouse.
The important thing to do is to see whether those tenancies are appropriate at a given point of time—otherwise you just give out a lease forever. We do not do that. They are time limited. I am sure the one to which you obliquely refer concludes next month. I do not believe it is the job of the government to seek out its own surplus space and put it out for peppercorn rent or otherwise to a commercial enterprise when we have, in some areas of town, non-government charitable organisations, support organisations and refugee support organisations clamouring for space. I do not believe the government is in the business of commercial real estate.
DR FOSKEY: Supplementary, Mr Speaker. Unlike some preschools and childcare centres that pay peppercorn rent, the Blue Gum preschool in Dickson pays a commercial rent—
MR SPEAKER: Would you come to the question please, Dr Foskey, without the preamble.
DR FOSKEY: Yes, that is certainly my intention. I am wondering what landlord responsibilities the ACT government has in relation to issues and concerns that the Blue Gum preschool in Dickson, paying a commercial rent, and having reported problems with the safety of heating fixtures, heating timers and general maintenance—
MR SPEAKER: Would you come to the question, please? Preambles are not—
DR FOSKEY: Would you like me to repeat the question? I asked: what landlord responsibilities the ACT government has in relation to these issues, which have been raised by the Blue Gum preschool in Dickson, which pays commercial rent to the government, as landlord? Sorry—for shortness!
MR HARGREAVES: It is all right. There are not too many cases where we would forgive you but this time we do, and we accept your apology without reservation. Mr Speaker, the ACT government, where it is landlord for such a thing as a preschool, takes its responsibilities seriously. I know Dr Foskey is talking about a litany of complaints—a page or so of issues—one of which involves a heater into which a child, I think, put some object and rendered it useless. There have been questions asked about