Page 3575 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 27 October 2015

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I move:

That the report be noted.

I present to the Assembly today this report into draft variation 343, and I would like to say a few words about the findings and recommendations. The committee thanks everyone who provided information and evidence to this inquiry, including the minister, directorate officials, interested organisations and members of the community. I also thank the secretary of the committee, Hamish Finlay, and other committee staff for their work.

Firstly, can I say that the issues this inquiry dealt with are issues that I know are difficult for many people in our community. The Mr Fluffy saga is one that has been going on for many years and will continue to go on for many more. It is a wide-ranging issue and one that will mean different things to different people. While the committee was not tasked with debating the merits of the Mr Fluffy buyback scheme, I wish to note the considerable impact of this issue on the Canberra community in general and the residents and home owners of Mr Fluffy homes in particular.

Those who have not been subjected to the trauma of the scheme cannot personally know the deep personal and financial difficulty of those individuals and families. I note the heartfelt evidence of a number of witnesses. There are some people who are still finding the scheme a difficult one for them to navigate personally. Equally, I note that other witnesses noted their gratitude for the scheme and the decisive and compassionate approach of the ACT government.

However, this was a specific inquiry into the matter of draft variation 343, which the Minister for Planning, Mick Gentleman, referred to the committee on 22 July 2015. The minister requested that the committee give consideration to the draft variation:

…at its earliest convenience, noting that there are a significant number of Canberra families affected by the Mr Fluffy buyback scheme, and the expeditious consideration of this variation will assist them to move forward as soon as possible.

The committee took this request seriously. Draft variation 343 provides for most residential blocks surrendered under the buyback scheme to be unit titled for dual occupancy. It allows for remediated Mr Fluffy blocks to have planning controls altered, reducing the minimum size for dual occupancy to 700 square metres, and allows unit titling. This affects one per cent of Canberra properties. It does not rezone RZ1 blocks as RZ2. It does not allow for multi-unit development in residential areas. Indeed, dual occupancy is already allowed in RZ1, and changes associated with DV 343 would see stricter controls around footprint and height limits, with most dual occupancies restricted to single storey.

This inquiry was limited to the draft variation specifically and to its impacts. It was important to the committee to be clear-headed about this while still showing compassion and understanding to those people who did not support the scheme or some of the proposed changes in this draft variation. That was our responsibility.

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