Page 2725 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 15 August 2017

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The Canberra Liberals wish to state again our position. The splitting of the LDA into the CRA and SLA does not by itself resolve the recurring integrity issues that became a distinguishing feature of the former agency. At the public accounts committee hearing on 26 July the Auditor-General condemned the loose governance arrangements and loose management within the LDA and found that it had been loose with documentation, which opens up opportunities for fraud. The government blocked attempts by the Canberra Liberals to address these issues for the new authorities in legislation earlier in the year.

The opposition intends to follow the CRA and spending on urban renewal closely to point out where the Labor-Greens government is being loose with taxpayer money. The government’s public relations exercise in creating the CRA and SLA is costing the taxpayer over $860,000 a year for each board and for the CEOs. We have effectively doubled the cost while halving the workload. The taxpayer now has to pay two boards, two chief executives and two agencies for work that could be done by one well-governed board, one principled chief executive and one accountable agency.

However, I believe that the government made a somewhat flippant decision to go with the two-agency approach in the midst of the Auditor-General’s report last year. Because of this government’s typical stubbornness, I think they were committed to going with the two-agency approach. They have now realised that the City Renewal Authority perhaps does not have a huge workload. So I would not be at all surprised if in time the CRA ends up taking on parts of government such as EventsACT and other marketing and economic development work, because I simply do not think there is going to be enough work for it to do.

Of course, the Suburban Land Agency will always have a role, but I really think that the actual workload for the CRA is going to dry up, especially if, as confirmed, the planning authority is going to continue doing the policy work, as is the case for the land use planning. It really does beg the question: what is the CRA actually going to be doing on a day-to-day basis? It seems to me like a very expensive contract management arm. There are two capital initiatives for the CRA in the 2017-18 budget. The bulk of the capital injection for the CRA is the $7.5 million allocated to stage 2 of the city to the lake project. This second stage of infrastructure works includes construction of the lake wall and boardwalk, land reclamation and associated infrastructure works.

The Canberra Liberals have uncovered through questioning that the government expects to spend $22.4 million over stage 2 to complete 500 metres of the boardwalk alone. This works out to about $45,000 per square metre. This spending is in addition to the nearly $6.3 million already spent on the first 150 metres. Of course, when you are spending this sort of money it is no wonder that rates are going up; it is no wonder that fees, taxes, fines and charges keep going up.

The 2017-18 budget also allocates $2 million for an initial works package, including land sale preparation work for city to the lake, the delivery of city activation events and the implementation of the Haig Park master plan. The Canberra Liberals are pleased to see that, five years after the draft Haig Park master plan was published, the

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