Page 1719 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2017
of “operate commercially”, it will read “to operate effectively in a way that delivers value for money, in accordance with sound risk management practices”. This is really important because in Canberra there has been a perception in the community that ACTPLA has largely been driven by financial interests and does not operate within a rigorous and community-endorsed planning framework.
Raising money should not and must not be one of these bodies’ main aims. At present both the CRA and the SLA have objects requiring them to operate commercially, in accordance with sound risk management practices. The requirement to operate commercially is not defined in the legislation and, if we are not careful, we are going to end up with two organisations that have all the problems that the previous LDA had, because the two organisations could be prioritising commercial returns over community benefit.
This amendment seeks to remove the bill’s reference to “commercial returns” and replace this with an object for both bodies to operate effectively in a way that delivers value for money—again, in accordance with sound risk management practices. This ensures that neither body will be able to prioritise commercial returns to the ACT government over and above other important objects and benefits to the community. In this way we reduce the risk that the CRA and the SLA will function in the same way that the LDA did, in one of the ways which the community certainly found objectionable.
While, of course, the Greens are not against government revenue—we clearly are not against that—it is important that it is done in a way that is in accordance with community expectations. It is not the only thing that we seek from our land agency.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (4.16): As drafted, the original section 8 of the bill lists the third and final object of the City Renewal Authority as being “to operate commercially, in accordance with sound risk management practices”. This construction is deliberate as it calls up elements of efficiency and return on investment. I think it is fair to say that it is unremarkable in equivalent legislation around the country. It focuses the work of the authority on applying commercial expertise and corporate insight to delivering the government’s intentions in a way the public service proper perhaps could not. That is why we are creating the statutory authority in the first place.
Section 5 of the bill sets out the objects of the act and expressly canvasses the pursuit of urban renewal and suburban development in the public interest. I repeat that: it explicitly canvasses the pursuit of urban renewal and suburban development in the public interest. Used in this context, the public interest encompasses the government’s expectation that the delivery of works by either entity is managed in a manner that preserves and obtains the fullest community value arising from land development works within the territory.
This approach, I think it is important to stress, is deliberately different from the current emphasis in the functions of the LDA. Ultimately, while I am not going to die in a ditch about this amendment—because I am sure the Assembly will have to come