Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 26 August 2005) . . Page.. 3310 ..
reform is simply the visible arm, is already happening. It is an iceberg approach to planning reform.
In that context, many of the more subtle issues around identification and future management of concessional leases may not get the detailed attention they need. This is compounded by the fact that the concessional leases review discussion paper did not include detailed documentation about the prospective scope of lease reform such as processes, categories, rents or rates. Such a detailed discussion would be of great interest to many sectors, organisations and lessees in the ACT community, and they could have provided a plethora of expert advice.
Given that, I wonder whether we might not be better off rolling this whole next stage of concessional lease reform into the larger project. If that is not to happen, then I would ask the government for reassurance that proposed policy and legislative changes flowing on from this bill are released and promoted widely, and in good time, to allow us all here to make informed decisions.
With regard to those as yet unresolved issues I would like to take this opportunity, before we pass this definitional bill, to flag the questions around the identification of individual concessional leases. An example of this is the car park block adjacent to the Street Theatre in City West, which was just sold to the ANU for $970,000, on the basis that it is to be used to construct student accommodation. On that basis, my office has been advised, the lease was sold at market value and so will not be classed as concessional. If the land were to be used for unit titled accommodation or for commercial and retail space, the market value would of course be significantly higher.
There are, however, some unresolved issues. In the first instance, the proposed accommodation will be marketed, essentially to overseas students, at 75 per cent of market rent. Such an arrangement does not ensure that the accommodation is affordable for students generally, nor does it set a benchmark for affordable accommodation for students and other low-income earners. This raises questions about the social benefit the ACT government is extracting in exchange for the relatively inexpensive sale.
The second concern is that of the future status of land use controls in the ACT. This building is limited to accommodation suitable to students, with some associated community and retail activities on the ground floor. Under current arrangements if that use were to be varied the ANU would need to pay a betterment tax.
Mrs Dunne: Mr Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order—relevance. Lengthy discussion about student accommodation at the University of Canberra, which is not a concessional lease and has nothing to do with the concessional lease provisions of this bill.
MR SPEAKER: Remain relevant, Dr Foskey.
DR FOSKEY: It is the Australian National University. Some of these requirements might change once the planning reform project has been concluded. There is real interest in the development industry in broad brush planning controls without the contestable detail of the current system. In that context I am using this speech to ask the Chief Minister’s Department to make available to the Assembly, and to release to the public,