Page 2893 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 August 2015
Territory plan variation 347 for the University of Canberra also allows for significant commercial and retail operations on site. Madam Deputy Speaker, when you and I were on the Lawson plan inquiry a few years ago, the committee heard that one of the benefits of the Lawson supermarket would be it would get the University of Canberra people as well, because there will not be a supermarket there. We also heard that the retail space in Lawson will have to be set back from Ginninderra Drive because it should not compete or have an unfair advantage compared to other local centres.
It just so happens that this territory plan variation will allow a supermarket smack bang on Ginninderra Drive. If I was an independent grocer at Florey or Kaleen or even Charnwood, I would be very concerned about this. The idea of having a supermarket on a main arterial road such as Ginninderra Drive goes against the very principles of our retail planning policies. We heard it ourselves, Madam Deputy Speaker, with regard to the Lawson inquiry several years ago.
That is why I am not at all surprised that concerns have been raised by retailers not only in the Belconnen town centre but also in other suburbs of Belconnen as well. Robyn Coghlan from the Belconnen Community Council said that when the Whitlam Labor government introduced the concept that all students should be able to attend university, it was unlikely this was expected to distort town planning principles. In this case, land that was reserved for educational purposes will be allowed to be used for non-educational purposes, with accommodation for both residents and businesses purely to provide income to support the university and to meet the ACT government’s policies.
There is no planning rationale for variation 347; it is simply another cash grab by this government. This government does not have a revenue problem; it has an expenditure problem. This government is committed to a $783 million light rail project in addition to agency expenses of perhaps $100 million, so we are getting close to a billion dollars. How does this government cry poor when it has got a billion dollars up its sleeve for light rail? How does this government claim it needs to extract more money out of parking, out of fees, out of charges, out of taxes, when it has a billion dollars up its sleeve for light rail? How does this government go to the commonwealth and say, “We need money for Mr Fluffy,” meanwhile it has a billion dollars for light rail? It simply does not make sense.
We oppose variation 327 regarding capital metro. It is a variation that will allow an electrical substation pretty much in anyone’s front yard. It will allow the government to put a large electrical substation in the front yard of someone’s house in Franklin, Harrison, Watson, Dickson, Braddon—who knows? Last year we saw the government’s project facilitation bill, Minister Corbell’s “build it anywhere, any time, and I’ll approve it” bill. That was knocked on the head. I do not see what the difference is with regard to the principles of the project facilitation bill and this University of Canberra variation. It allows pretty much anything to be built anywhere without the constraints the rest of Canberra must comply with. There are two sets of rules: one for the government and their mates and one for everybody else. The government and their mates get streamlined while every other person in town has to do it tough, and this government seems to revel in it.