Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 21 September 2017) . . Page.. 4087 ..
The federal government have decided that they are not able to keep up these properties and properly maintain and restore the buildings to the condition that they deserve to be in, given their heritage status. That is why they are being allowed to be sold. I will read—without the accent—from the media statement of the relevant minister, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, on 28 August this year:
The Government continues to ensure that the Commonwealth’s property portfolio is appropriate for expected future needs and maximises value for taxpayers.
Following the commencement of the sale processes of Anzac Park East, Anzac Park West and West Block earlier this year, the Government is now seeking proposals for the sale of East Block.
The National Archives of Australia will temporarily relocate to the Old Parliament House to enable the completion of capital works to the building. The National Archives will return to East Block in approximately September 2018.
Private investment will support urban renewal, revitalisation of heritage buildings, reopening of the former restaurant building next to Anzac Park West and the overdue rebuild of Anzac Park East, which has been unusable for decades.
The approaches to market provide significant development opportunities, and contribute to the revitalisation of key areas within the Parliamentary Triangle precinct, consistent with the National Capital Plan.
We have a government that talks all the time about urban renewal and revitalisation. Here is another opportunity. Here we are able to maintain the heritage values of those buildings. Earlier this year, during Heritage Month, I went through that area on a guided tour and learnt about West Block and the bunker there. It was the first time I had heard about the World War II history of the bunker. It was really fascinating. It is heritage listed and it will continue to be maintained. Heritage values will be protected through covenants and provisions included in the sales contracts and crown leases.
In conclusion, private investment can provide an opportunity to revitalise these properties and ensure their significant heritage values are maintained with adaptive re-use. In fact, it can enhance their heritage values. We will not be supporting the motion or the amendment, given that our firm position on this is that it is a matter for the federal government, not the ACT Assembly.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (12.05): I strongly disagree with Ms Lawder’s views. It is certainly a local issue that affects me. Every day on my way to work I look at West Block from the bus window. It is exciting. It is a local issue for the people who live here in Canberra. I would like to focus, though, on three issues that would mean all members, I hope, would support this motion. Privatisation is the first. Australia has now been pursuing the path of privatisation of public assets since most of the 1980s. From the beginning, the Greens have been dubious about it and the track record has, unfortunately, borne out of one of the Greens’ concerns.