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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 September 2015) . . Page.. 3068 ..

I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that we have a significant lack of demand in the ACT for a range of reasons. It is a matter of fact that commonwealth cuts have meant that there is less demand for office space. We have seen what I think is called “project tetris”, where the commonwealth government are attempting to fit more people into their existing buildings to generate greater efficiency in their property portfolio. That is a worthwhile objective at one level. We want to get good value for money from the federal government in terms of making sure they are not paying for empty office space, but there can be no doubt a project like that has had an impact on demand for buildings.

There are a range of factors there and I do not think the analysis stacks up. We have seen those remissions in place and people have not taken them up. Projects are not going ahead. It is not that the LVC appears to be the barrier. It actually appears that there are other factors in play. I am not convinced that Mr Smyth’s analysis is right. I do not think that the policy that the Liberal Party has announced is going to make a difference—aside from the fact that I do not think it is good policy because it takes away all of that community benefit arising from the gain in value—and certainly the stimulus measures that have been put in place in the last couple of years do not seem to have had an effect.

I will not be supporting Mr Smyth’s motion today. I will be supporting the amendment put forward by Mr Barr, which outlines some of the remissions that are available. I acknowledge paragraph (1)(g) in Mr Barr’s amendment. It is the point I have made today, which is I believe that to simply give a significant tax break here is not appropriate. It short-changes the community and means that all of the gains from a change in the lease variation purpose go to one party when, in fact, the community should derive some of those benefits as well.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.45): I would like to start by thanking Mr Smyth for bringing this important motion before the Assembly today and for his determined commitment to revitalise our CBD and town centres. Mr Smyth is a champion of business in this town. He understands economics. He understands what it is going to take to actually get business back doing what business does best and helping to build our great city and our great town centres. That is a philosophy and a view shared amongst my colleagues.

Mr Smyth has outlined our rationale for this policy well, but I would like to reinforce what he said. We are doing this because our CBD and our town centres are dying. We attended the forum last week where that view was shared by many. After 14 years of Labor, after 14 years of bad policy and neglect from Labor, we have a situation where, in essence, there is an emergency meeting called by the community to say, “Something is very bad with the state of the CBD. We need urgent action. We need a response. We need a champion. We need to fix what is going on in Civic.” Equally, the same applies to the town centres, and not one member of the Labor Party bothered to attend.

Mr Barr was at the lunch, I understand. I am sure sparkling water was on offer for him. But not a single member of the Labor Party bothered to attend an emergency meeting

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