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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 February 2017) . . Page.. 538 ..

MR WALL (Brindabella) (6.10): It seems there is some confusion on the part of the minister as to what the solution to this problem actually is. As I said in my speech, the government thinks it is a reasonable and appropriate course of action to expect a business in this town to foot the capital expenditure to improve a government asset and then hand back ownership of the improvements to the government. Imagine if someone rented a home that had no kitchen and the landlord said, “That’s all right. You’re the tenant. You put the kitchen in yourself but, when you leave, I own the kitchen.” If a landlord in this town did that, those on the other side would be screaming from the hills about how inappropriate it was that a mongrel landlord was beating a tenant up like that. But this is exactly what is happening in this instance.

The government owns the adjoining land which has been used for overflow car parking. The government is saying to the business, “You build the car park, but government will own it and we’ll rent it back to you.” The common-sense solution here, the way normal commercial transactions work, would be for the government to say, “We can assist you.” Government has funded the quotation and the design studies for the car park. The price put on it by the scoping study is around that $280,000 mark. The Liberals’ commitment going into the election was $300,000 to ensure that it was well and truly within any inflation or change of work.

The straightforward solution is for government to get an undertaking from the operators that should the car parking improvements be made, the doors will be reopened. They should spend the money on their own land, invest in the car park improvements and lease the improved car park back to the operator of the mpowerdome. To say that it is a commercial operator and that this cannot be done flies in the face of what happens in most group centre car parks around the territory. Chisholm shops, Calwell shops: the car parks are government land. Businesses that operate adjacent to them are privately owned. We are not asking for the rule book to be rewritten or for the goal posts to be moved. This is common practice across the territory in commercial precincts.

To answer the question as to why a buyer for the facility has not been able to be found, the answer is simple: whether it is this owner or any other owner of the facility, the car parking issue remains.

It is appropriate to mention that, yes, Minister Berry did reach out in August last year to speak to the owners of the facility. She gave them the undertaking she would have someone in the directorate contact them to try to resolve the issue. My understanding of how the conversation with the directorate official went was, “I have a list of people that might be interested in buying you out.” Putting forward people to buy out the current operator is not very genuine engagement in trying to resolve the issue. Regardless of what happens, whether it is the current operators or any other owner of the facility, the issue relating to car parking remains.

The minister has made the undertaking today that she is willing to sit down with the owners again, have the discussion and try to find a genuine way forward. That was the crux of the letter that I have written to the minister inviting her to meet with me and the owners. I invited the minister to have that discussion in a pragmatic way, to work constructively.

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