Page 871 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 April 2014

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(2) calls on the Government to grant a full waiver to the extension of time fee on Block 12 Section 229 in Conder, so that development of a much needed bulk-billing medical centre can commence.

Mr Assistant Speaker, in 2007 a Dr Jamiel, the current owner, and his business partner bought block 12, section 229 near the Conder shopping centre from the ACT government. The block was designated for use as a health facility. Unfortunately, after purchasing the land Dr Jamiel’s business relationship with his partner broke down. This led to a court battle over the land and the joint investment, which continued until 2011. During this period there was a caveat over the block, which made it impossible for Dr Jamiel to develop the block.

As a result of these factors, Dr Jamiel could not develop on his block. It was not land banking. Subsequently, he racked up late building fees of $254,866. Let us remember that the commence and complete fees, the extension of time fees as they are known now, were put in place to stop land banking, to primarily ensure that development occurred and not to have people sitting on blocks of land to speculate. Dr Jamiel is a doctor, a medical doctor. He is not a land developer. He was not speculating.

A number of members of the Assembly have made representations on Dr Jamiel’s behalf. I did so last year, and I note in a letter from the Treasurer to Dr Jamiel dated 20 March 2014 that he was given a partial waiver of $138,000, leaving some $110,000 still to be paid. This is all fine and well; however, Dr Jamiel, as a regular GP trying to get on with his medical practice, does not have the facility to pay the extra fee. As such, the block cannot be developed until the fee is paid. Dr Jamiel is not a land developer. The development has been held up by court processes mainly beyond his control, and he is certainly not what we would see as the stereotypical land banking, white shoe wearing land developer of the ACT—not that there are many of those anyway because the government has never been able to produce a single example of land banking.

Dr Jamiel is currently paying over $22,000 in rates every year. The longer this project cannot commence the more money it is costing him. I say again: he is not land banking. There is no endless pool of money to feed the government’s fees and charges. This is not an abstract debate; this is tangible. This is very real and this could very well financially hurt—and I assume is currently hurting—a well-intentioned medical doctor as well as Lanyon residents who miss out on a bulk-billing facility in the valley. The longer this matter drags on, the longer residents of Conder, and, indeed, broader Lanyon, cannot get their bulk-billing medical centre.

My colleague Mr Coe said it best when he commented in October last year that the stalling of this development is a lose-lose situation for Canberrans. Mr Coe said in the Canberra Times on 27 October that:

The government does not collect the fee and the community does not get the benefit of the facility the developers are proposing.

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