Page 1557 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2006

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It is a commercial arrangement between two entities. It does not involve the government so I cannot comment on those issues.

What I can comment on is the manner in which this whole exercise has been conducted. I can certainly comment on the issue of what scope the government has to ensure that this facility continues to be used as a caravan park. It is my view, and I think it would be a view shared by my colleagues, that this is an important piece of land for the provision of low-cost accommodation for working people and for people on low incomes in the ACT. That is indeed what the lease purpose clause indicates the site should be used for. It should be used for a caravan park.

I have already indicated publicly yesterday, and I am happy to confirm to the Assembly that, as minister, I will not support any proposal, firstly, to vary the territory plan to permit the land to be used for anything other than its existing land use policy, which is a broad acre land use policy. Obviously that does not permit residential uses on site.

In relation to the issue of the lease purpose clause, at the moment the lease purpose clause for this site confines the use to a caravan park. I think the government would have to have a very, very strong argument put to it that the lease purpose clause should be varied. I am certainly not of the view that the lease purpose clause should be varied. In fact, I am prepared to go so far as to indicate that, if an application were made to seek to vary the lease in a way that eliminated its use as a caravan park, I could not rule out using my powers under the act to not approve that lease variation.

That is the approach that I am wanting to adopt on this issue. I have indicated to the owner’s legal representative that I would like to meet with them to discuss issues around potential use of the site and to basically make clear to them what I have just made clear to the Assembly in terms of not permitting the caravan use to be eliminated.

I think it is interesting to note that this whole situation that we are in has come about by a decision of Brendan Smyth to sell this caravan park in the first place. It is very interesting to refer to the Hansard of a few years ago. Even more interesting is to refer to a media statement issued by Mr Smyth on 30 June 2000, when he announced that he had decided that the ownership of the long-stay caravan park was to be transferred to the Koomarri Association. Mr Smyth went on to say—indeed, he said so in Hansard as well—that he thought that, first of all, the ownership of the caravan park was not the core business of the government and that the caravan park should be sold.

Mr Stefaniak: Did you disagree?

MR CORBELL: Yes, we did, actually. It is on the record. Further, he said that he thought this decision would result in very significant public benefits and that the government had therefore decided that the very significant public benefits justify forgoing the revenue which would have been generated by a sale. I think it is time now for Mr Smyth to indicate what he thinks the very significant public benefits are to the residents of the Narrabundah long-stay caravan park given the letter of eviction that they received from the new owners less than 24 hours ago.

DR FOSKEY: I ask a supplementary question. Does the government have the power to

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