Page 2891 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 August 2015

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It is very clear that, firstly, there has been a very low level of interest in relation to the public consultation phase of this draft variation, because it is a largely technical land use planning change document. Secondly, during the seven months that the planning committee in this place had to consider the variation, they were unable to come up with any recommendation in relation to it. There has been plenty of time and plenty of process to consider these variations.

Then, of course, at the last minute, the Liberal Party come in here and say they want to disallow the variations. And when the government says, “Well, if you want to do that, let’s get on with it, let’s have the debate,” they chicken out. They pull the plug on the motions. That is not good enough. There is clear precedent in this place for a motion to be moved and then negatived by the government to provide for certainty, to make it clear that these variations to the territory plan stand and decisions can be made accordingly.

My colleague Minister Gentleman will talk about the University of Canberra variation in more detail, but this variation is equally important for the future of our city. The University of Canberra is a critical tertiary research and education institution in Canberra. It is rapidly growing and it has adopted a very aggressive, far-sighted and visionary approach to growing its role as a tertiary education institution. This government supports our universities doing that. We want to see our universities grow. We want to see them attract more students. We want to see them attract more research, and we want to see them attract more investment, creating jobs and growth in what is one of our economic strengths—the education sector.

That is what this variation achieves. It is supported by the vice-chancellor, it is supported by the council of the university and it is supported strongly across the tertiary education sector, because it is about growing the strength of our second largest university right here in Canberra—and, indeed, the only university that is directly accountable to the territory government.

It is critically important that we lend it our support. It is critically important that we send the signal that there will be no uncertainty and no delay in relation to the variation for the University of Canberra. If the Liberals think they have got an argument to oppose the variation then let us hear it. They have had over a year to think about it. Mr Coe has had seven months on the planning committee to cogitate on it. I think by now he would have his arguments, so let us hear them. Let us debate them, and let us resolve this matter once and for all.

That is the purpose of this motion today. I think it is time that we backed growth, investment, jobs and economic activity in our city. That is exactly what this motion today will help us to achieve.

MR COE (Ginninderra) (4.22): The opposition were quite surprised to see this motion. As of this morning when we lodged disallowance to variations 327 and 347, we thought that, according to the provisions of the Planning and Development Act with five days to give notice of disallowance and then five days to bring it on, the government would respect this place, respect the mover of that disallowance and give the opposition their opportunity to raise this in the September sittings. Indeed, that is what the stakeholders we have been chatting to also thought was going to happen.

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