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Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories
Provision of amenity within the Parliamentary Triangle
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Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories
CHAIR (Senator Pratt)
Humphries, Sen Gary
Brodtmann, Gai, MP
Crean, Simon, MP
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Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories
(Joint-Tuesday, 11 June 2013)
CHAIR (Senator Pratt)
- Senator HUMPHRIES
Content WindowJoint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories - 11/06/2013 - Provision of amenity within the Parliamentary Triangle
RAKE, Mr Gary, Chief Executive, National Capital Authority
SMITH, Mr Andrew, Chief Planner, National Capital Authority
WALKER-KAYE, Ms Alison, Executive Director, National Capital Estate, National Capital Authority
Committee met at 13:04 .
CHAIR ( Senator Pratt ): I open this hearing. I am going to ask a committee member to move that the media be allowed to film the proceedings in accordance with the rules set down for the committee, which include not taking footage or still images of papers or laptop screens.
Senator HUMPHRIES: I so move.
Ms BRODTMANN: I second the motion.
CHAIR: That is carried. Following the announcement by government in the budget of the introduction of paid parking on national land in Parkes, Barton, Russell and Acton, today's hearing is an opportunity for the committee to get input from government agencies, the community, national institutions, business et cetera on the provision of local amenity in the Parliamentary Triangle. I apologise for the fact that I cannot be in Canberra today, but I trust that my colleagues who are in the room can help us ensure our proceedings run smoothly. I would like to begin by welcoming the National Capital Authority.
Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I advise you that these hearings are formal proceedings of the parliament and warrant the same respect as proceedings of the respective houses. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. The evidence given today will be recorded by Hansard and attracts parliamentary privilege. I invite you to make an opening statement to the committee.
Mr Rake : We do not have an opening statement today, other than to pass on the apologies of the Chair of the National Capital Authority, Ms Shelley Penn, who was unable to be here today.
CHAIR: Okay. I will commence by asking you about your expectations around the implementation of paid parking in and of itself, in terms of who it will apply to, which precincts et cetera. I ask you to outline some of those complexities. Also, I want to ask about the approach of the National Capital Authority—as an agent of the Commonwealth that exercises the Commonwealth's responsibilities but also the equivalent of local government responsibilities—to providing amenity within the Parliamentary Triangle. I note for my own part that Commonwealth agencies are not usually used to operating like local government agencies in terms of thinking about those questions. The National Capital Authority is, of course, the expectation to that, because you are indeed responsible for those things. I would like to know how you go about considering issues like what kinds of shopping precincts et cetera may or may not be appropriate considering the character of the Parliamentary Triangle.
Mr Rake : Everything that we talk about today in terms of planning policy and land management we will talk about as being national land within the Central National Area rather than the Parliamentary Triangle, simply because the triangle does not cover some of the areas that will have paid parking from 1 July next year.
CHAIR: We will note that as a given, noting that some of us might deviate from that language.
Mr Rake : Of course. You asked first about the implementation of paid parking. Paid parking will be introduced from 1 July 2014 on unleased national land in the Central National Area. That includes land within the Parliamentary Zone in Parkes, a couple of unleased sites in Barton, land at Russell, some land along Constitution Avenue and land at Acton. The primary motivation is to remove encroachment from the Parliamentary Zone. We have a situation where the management and the policies dealing with unleased surface car parks throughout these areas has not kept pace with changes in the city over the past 20 years. The Commonwealth through the late 1990s and the asset divestment program sold previously government owned office buildings to private hands but retained ownership of surface car parks. Whereas the market has taken over management of the buildings, we still have this constrained government ownership of car parks and no price—no market intervention at all. As the rest of the city has developed, the price disparity between car parks in other parts and the free parks we have here have created an incentive. It is now a saving of up to $13.50 a day for people to choose to park in the Parliamentary Zone and walk or ride a bike the rest of the way to work, and that encroachment is resulting in visitors missing out on car parks close to national institutions.
So the primary policy intent is to remove the incentive for that encroachment by putting a price on parking. We expect that will have two impacts fairly quickly. The first thing is that commuters will start parking closer to their offices. The short message is: if you work in Barton, park in Barton; if you work in Civic, park in Civic. We also expect that in high-pressure areas like Barton the introduction of pay parking will create an incentive for private operators to build multistorey car parks and create additional supply where it is needed most. We are very confident that this policy change will improve the lot of visitors to our national institutions. It will improve availability of parking for workers in the Parliamentary Zone, Russell, Barton and Acton.
We will be working very closely with the ACT government in the implementation arrangements, and that includes the selection of the machines that we use to issue vouchers, making sure that, to the extent possible, we have a common feel in the technology that we use across the city—although we are looking to adopt modern technology; we do not expect people to carry hundreds of dollars in coins around each month to pay their parking. It also means working closely with the ACT government to understand flow-on effects. For those people who continue to chase a free park, where will they go next? Will that be into the streets and suburbs? We will work with the ACT government to help them manage any of those problems. We have already been working with the ACT government to improve public transport arrangements in the Parliamentary Zone. We recently upgraded seating and shelters at the major bus stops to make sure that amenity for travellers is improved.
On the broader question of retail amenity, the planning system is a management system that controls land use and makes sure that we have compatible and sensible land uses. We do not necessarily use it to bind the market or unduly manipulate the market. I guess that in Barton our focus is to make sure that the planning system enables appropriate development. In this case the planning system enables the development of retail with very little constraint. There are some sites where we mandate that there be active frontages; that means shops with a consumer-oriented presence. But we cannot prescribe particularly types of services. We cannot say, 'That one must be a hairdresser,' or, 'That one must be a chemist.' We try and let the market decide what mix of services comes in. There are three different sites in Barton that require a retail plaza at ground level—at street level—but it will be for the market to decide what sort of services there are. So I guess what we are doing there is making sure that the planning system does not get in the way of creating this amenity. Over towards Russell we have similar requirements for active street-level frontage along Constitution Avenue as it develops. Indeed, the new development on the corner of ANZAC Parade and Constitution Avenue, Section 5 Campbell, will have quite an extensive ground-level active frontage. But, again, we cannot sensibly prescribe the nature of those services. Some of the submissions talk about particular services such as doctors and hairdressers. It would be very difficult to come up with a selection of those services that met the needs of every single employee, so we do keep coming back to this market approach.
The other thing that is pertinent is the change in technology over the last couple of years. It is now possible to apply for a mortgage loan without ever attending the bank until it is time to sign up. The idea of bringing in banks is difficult. We have a deregulated banking industry. There are literally dozens of institutions. Which ones would we pick? Which ones would we bring in? So our general approach is to enable and not get in the way, but we are not in the game of using the planning system to prescribe very particular businesses.
CHAIR: Can I ask your view about how that compares with other local government authorities, if you like. It seems that in many development contexts they will take a more active approach to saying, 'Yes, we would like to invite doctors or particular kinds of amenity to exist.'
Mr Rake : Generally, that is done in the context of broader urban planning, and they would be thinking about the creation of a community hub—so a suburb with its local shopping centre—and trying to make sure that people in the local area have access to those services. In that context, we would need to think about our interaction with the ACT government. The ACT government puts a lot of effort into maintaining an appropriate hierarchy of retail centres across the territory. We have the major town centres where there is a large array of specialist services, whether they be retail or professional services, and it trickles down to local shopping centres where there would be a small number of small-scale generalists: the small IGA-style supermarkets where you might be able to pick up one or two or five different types of pasta, you might be able to pick up one cheap pair of rubber thongs if needed over the weekend, but you are not going to find a specialist clothing provider, for example.
CHAIR: What is the extent to which the NCA has considered whether there should be a community hub approach to development within this area? Or is it something that is generally considered to be outside the character of the National Capital Authority's area of responsibility?
Mr Rake : No, we have definitely thought about it. In Barton, where we are seeing a fairly rapid change of character, there are more office buildings coming in, there are now several hotels that did not exist 10 years ago, and there are new apartments and more to come. It has the character of an emerging, dense urban precinct, and it will clearly need retail amenity within the next decade, probably even within five years.
Senator HUMPHRIES: Supposing a chain like Coles or Woolworths wanted to open a supermarket now in the precinct we are talking about, what would stop them from doing that? Are there any suitable sites there for them to do that right now?
Mr Rake : It depends on the scale. I do not think there is an appropriate site for a full-size supermarket, and I do not think it would be an appropriate use to have one. But if they wanted a Coles Express—the mini-model that you might see in other cities—that sort of thing could go onto several sites in Barton. The most likely one is the car park behind the Edmund Barton Building where there is quite a large ground floor retail plaza required under the plan, and it could quite comfortably take an IGA Express or a Coles Express.
Senator HUMPHRIES: Sure. Or a Mini Mart or something of that sort.
Mr Rake : Yes, a Mini Mart, that is right. We would take pretty careful account, working with our colleagues in the ACT government, of the policies that they use to try to manage the scale and location of retail premises. We would probably look for something 1,500 metres or smaller.
Senator HUMPHRIES: But the concept is already possible under the planning regime; it is simply the size and the addressing of the surrounding area that is regulated by the special requirements of this part of Canberra?
Mr Rake : That is right. The quality of the development on that site will still need to be very high. It will be approved by the National Capital Authority. It is within the designated areas. But the planning system says that, to give that area the sort of character that people want, that we want, that is appropriate, given its national significance, there should be an active ground frontage. We should not have blank walls and closed doors and windows at the streetscape. We are saying it is a retail plaza and it is outward facing, so straightaway that starts pointing it down the professional services and retail line, but it is for the market to pick what could go in there, and the sort of service you have described would be allowed there.
Senator HUMPHRIES: We would never see a service station, for example, in that part of Canberra?
Mr Rake : No. A service station is an entirely different use. It is not permitted under retail.
Senator HUMPHRIES: Obviously the area we are talking about is quite large. It crosses the lake. A consumer on one side of the lake is very unlikely to cross the lake to buy groceries or something, and even on the south side of the lake you have quite a big distance between the eastern extremities of Barton and the western extremities against Commonwealth Avenue. Realistically, if you want to provide services you need two or three basic centres or places people can get services like grocery shops, banks, hairdressers and whatever it is people are looking for. You would need several such nodes of service in a place as large as this area, wouldn't you?
Mr Rake : We have two questions there. The first is to establish that there is a viable market need for those services at those multiple nodes.
Senator HUMPHRIES: I am not sure that is the question. The question is one of amenity in the parliamentary triangle. You are looking from the point of view of whether the market would support that or not—that is a decision for the market. The question is whether the planning system is flexible enough. Let us assume that it was commercially viable. Let us suppose it is almost desperate to get those things in there.
Mr Rake : In that sense, for the parliamentary zone, the formal area south of the lake between Lake Burley Griffin and Parliament House and bounded by Commonwealth Avenue and Kings Avenue, the PZ master plan enables the development of multistorey car parks behind the John Gorton Building and the Treasury building, and allows for retail amenity on a small scale—the sorts of services you have just described—to go into those. The planning system enables it there. Those sites are controlled by government, and our advice would be that the parliamentary zone proper is a place of such national significance that it should remain in government ownership. It would need to be the decision of the government to develop those, but the planning system enables it.
In Barton the planning system very actively enables it. Russell is close to the eastern side of Constitution Avenue and the planning system mandates active frontages for development along that space. Even down at Acton it is a short walk from the New Acton precinct, which enables multiuse, including retail. Indeed, there is a small stall there, a cafe and now a theatre. The development of West Basin over time enables multiple use and requires active street frontages. The planning system enables everything we are talking about. It is a case of the market and demand catching up.
Senator HUMPHRIES: What I am getting at is that, really, there is no need to modify our planning system with respect to the area at all.
Mr Rake : I do not think so.
Senator HUMPHRIES: Is capable of delivering these services if the market is there for them to be delivered.
Mr Rake : Very much so. Indeed, even without additional development in the parliamentary zone, which would be a large investment, there are already retail concessions, primarily cafes, in almost every building. There is no real barrier to them teasing out the range of services that they provide.
Senator HUMPHRIES: On the broader question of paid parking, in early discussions between this committee and the NCA about plans or ideas being developed for paid parking, there was always an assumption that the revenue from the parking would be the property of the ACT government, not the federal government. At what point did that paradigm change to make the federal government the recipient of that parking revenue?
Mr Rake : I have never made any statement that indicated the revenue would go to the ACT government. If any of my predecessors did then I think it was a misplaced statement. These assets belong to the Commonwealth, and any revenue accruing from the use of Commonwealth owned assets should stay with the Commonwealth.
Senator HUMPHRIES: I have not gone back to study transcripts of the proceedings to see if this was discussed before, but I am quite certain that in discussions there was an assumption made, and not necessarily a statement of fact, among all parties concerned that the ACT government would be the recipient of the revenue. Certainly, the present ACT government has made that statement in the past, and it has not been contradicted by any federal agencies or federal ministers in the past. When did you first hear that the federal government would be the recipient of the revenue from paid parking?
Mr Rake : This was announced in the budget about a month ago.
Senator HUMPHRIES: You were not consulted before?
Mr Rake : We are involved in the budget process, but we do not talk about the mechanisms of it. We have quite openly stated that we gave advice to government about changes in policy that would free up parks for visitors. That advice involved recommending paid parking. Fundamentally, the view I have held from my very first day in this job has been that any economic use of a Commonwealth owned asset should accrue a financial benefit for the Commonwealth. I would never have contemplated revenue going to the ACT for parking fees on Commonwealth owned assets. It would be like the Commonwealth allowing the ACT to rent out a Commonwealth owned building and keep the revenue. It would be bizarre.
Senator HUMPHRIES: When we have paid parking it will obviously have to be regulated with parking inspectors. Does the Commonwealth proposes, as far as you are aware, to employ its own parking inspectors?
Mr Rake : In this case we propose to have two rangers working in the area, and one of their duties will be to enforce parking arrangements.
Senator HUMPHRIES: Does it make much sense, with respect, to have federal parking rangers—only two parking rangers—for the city, when there are presumably dozens of ACT parking rangers already doing the same job?
Mr Rake : The data provided recently suggests that the ACT has on average 15 parking inspectors working on any given day across the city. To achieve our policy intent we need to be able to have the Commonwealth target enforcement. What that means is we get the behavioural modifications that we are after. There is a flow-on benefit; having these people work as rangers means that they can take a visitor service role. So they might conduct a walking tour on Anzac Parade in the morning, patrol a couple of car parks at lunchtime during the peak period and then be undertaking condition assessment of footpaths in the afternoon, for example, to look for trip hazards. It will be a multifunctional job that will improve amenity for visitors in the central national area.
Senator HUMPHRIES: There are other alternatives, aren't there, to solving the problems of the national institutions in terms of their parking problems? I acknowledge that people are parking there, crossing the lake and going to work in civic. But there are means of ensuring that people who park in the precincts of national institutions can have tickets validated and so on inside those institutions, effectively excluding people who are not visiting the institutions from accessing the parking, aren't there?
Mr Rake : If our aim was to provide free parking for visitors and only charge commuters and employees for parking, in theory, yes, that is possible. There is a resource cost to it; validation systems have some cost to managing them. They are also prone to being exploited. We have heard reports from some of the validation systems that exist at the moment of people feigning being a visitor to an institution so they can get access to a car park.
Senator HUMPHRIES: You can do that for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, but I think people would pretty quickly work out what was going on if they were using it as a permanent source for parking.
Mr Rake : They do. They recognise these people. But what is the regulatory tool? If someone sticks their head around the corner and says: 'I saw the portrait. Yes, I know I have seen it every day this week. I know I have seen it every day for the past month.' What is the tool to say—how do we classify the validity—
Senator HUMPHRIES: You have a discretion to refuse it if it is being abused. I am sure that can be managed.
Mr Rake : I think that actually passes a really unfair burden to the institutions. They are going to start becoming the baddie dealing with that kind of constraint. Dealing with the—
Senator HUMPHRIES: I think this is dealing with much deeper unfairness involved in the whole concept of paid parking. But perhaps that is a more editorial comment.
CHAIR: I give the call to Ms Brodtmann.
Ms BRODTMANN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr Rake, for presenting, for your submission and for clarifying the language we have been using in terms of 'Parliamentary Zone' and 'Parliamentary Triangle'. I want to turn to page 9, where you talk about Deakin West. You say there that there are a number of people now working there and that they do not have access to an amenity. Can you give us some idea about how many people are working in Deakin West?
Mr Rake : I am sorry. I do not have data on that number.
Ms BRODTMANN: Because it is a relatively new development. You are talking about the Equinox facilities.
Mr Rake : I am also talking about the Deakin West office precinct. There are accountants and professional associations. So we are really talking about the area bounded by Denison Street, Kent Street and Carruthers Street. It is quite a large precinct. There are national lobby groups and federations in there. It has a character in many ways similar to the Barton of 10 years ago. I was not purely talking about the Equinox development.
Ms BRODTMANN: Okay. But, in terms of the numbers, I do not think it would be anything on par with what you get in the Parliamentary Zone or particularly that Barton area.
Mr Rake : No, I think that is right. If we compare the Parliamentary Zone and Deakin West, which is what we have done in our submission, and we looked at the aggregate of workers in the Treasury Building, the John Gorton Building, national institutions, West Block and Parliament House, we would see there were more workers in the Parliamentary Zone—
Ms BRODTMANN: DFAT?
Mr Rake : No, DFAT is in Barton. We have compared the Parliamentary Zone to Deakin West. We have compared Barton to City West. There would be more workers in the Parliamentary Zone than in Deakin West, but, other than that, they are very similar in terms of the mix of uses—institutional use, primarily healthcare based. There are a couple of private hospitals in Deakin.
Ms BRODTMANN: Yes, there are hospitals and doctors.
Mr Rake : Over here it is cultural institutions.
Ms BRODTMANN: On page 19 of your submission you talk about possible barriers to development. On the Barton issue, you state:
It is important to ensure that Government, as land manager and planning regulator, does not unduly fetter the private sector's ability to deliver these amenities.
Do you have any concern that that could potentially be the case? In response to Senator Humphries's questions, the suggestion was that there was not.
Mr Rake : No. What we were trying to say with that statement was that our test is: are we getting in the way? We do not believe that we are unduly getting in the way. We will make sure that the structures are sensible and well designed. But we think the market has all of the flexibility it needs to bring those services in.
Ms BRODTMANN: Particularly with the growth of residential down there, too. There is a lot of infill going on, particularly in the Kingston area on this side of the lake. There is a lot of residential growth. In Melbourne, when they developed the Postcode 3000 campaign, we saw a burgeoning of little minimarts and a range of other services that would not have been available in the past because everyone had been living in the suburbs.
Mr Rake : One of the motivations for mandating retail plaza and active frontage at the ground floor is that, if we let the market play by itself, there probably would not be enough demand for an active ground floor in the very first building that went up. So, naturally, the building owner would sell it off and it would become a closed space, and that might happen for the second and third. By the time it got to the fifth, suddenly, there would be market demand but nowhere to put it unless they went back and retrofitted. So, by mandating an active ground floor, we are essentially reserving space for the future and making sure that there is space available—good, attractive, useful space—for those services as the market grows. We really believe that Barton will become quite a thriving urban area over the next decade.
Ms BRODTMANN: I agree.
Mr Rake : We have compared it to New Acton because we think that is probably the path that it is taking.
Ms BRODTMANN: I agree. On the way you mandate that type of retail space—I know that you are not wanting to direct what goes in there—do you specifically mention 'minimart' in the language you have used?
Mr Rake : No, we do not.
Ms BRODTMANN: So it is just broad retail.
Mr Rake : Yes, retail.
Ms BRODTMANN: I was talking to someone over the weekend about this issue and this inquiry, and there is a concern amongst the people in Campbell Park that, when paid parking is introduced into the Russell area, people are just going to go over to Campbell Park. Paid parking will not be introduced to Campbell Park, will it?
Mr Rake : It is not on our current program, but it would be for the land managers there to make that decision. Campbell Park is now privately held national land, so the lease owner there could decide to introduce pay parking if they were finding that they were suffering encroachment.
Ms BRODTMANN: Is that something that you could monitor?
Mr Rake : Yes, we would be more than happy to monitor that.
Ms BRODTMANN: It was a concern. It is tight everywhere; we know that. But it is tight over at Campbell Park, and, again, we confront the issue of the amenity over there too because it is isolated. It is probably even more isolated than, say, Russell in terms of the access to Civic. That would be an issue.
Mr Rake : The policy framework that we have set up enables us to deal with any additional problems that we discover. So we have not simply constrained the background of this policy to the Central National Area. It can be expanded if problems emerge elsewhere without having to reinvent the wheel.
Ms BRODTMANN: In terms of the issue of amenity, there have been a number of enquiries into paid parking in this zone over many years. Has the issue of amenity actually featured to any great extent during those conversations, or has it just been addressed in the context of the discussion of paid parking and not really been the focus? I am just surprised that we are at this point where we are having to explore the issue of amenity or services in a commercial precinct that has grown substantially over many years. There are thousands and thousands of people working there, and there has not been a conversation around amenity or an attempt to try and address this issue, this gap.
Mr Rake : I think Senator Humphries will recall from his longer term service on this committee that that has been a topic of previous conversations. Indeed, the 2004 inquiry by this committee, which focused purely on pay parking, then teased the arguments out into the amenity area. If we look back at a comparison between now and 2004, a couple of the sites in Barton in particular that would now enable retail were government owned. One was Commonwealth government owned and one was ACT government owned, and, at that point had only been contemplated for use as surface car parks.
Indeed, we have made some steps forward in making it easier for amenity to come in. As I said, the plan actively mandates this stuff. The other thing that has probably changed over the past decade is the range of things that we can do online. I mentioned finance earlier, but Medicare claims are now done online. Previously, they were done over-the-counter, so there has been quite an evolution in the way we do business.
The proliferation of small supermarkets attached to service stations, with the two big supermarkets buying into the servo business, means that it is much easier for us to stop and pick up a few essentials—bread, milk et cetera. You can get five different varieties of bread at the service station now.
Senator HUMPHRIES: If you have your car with you., you can do it.
Mr Rake : Yes, if you have your car with you.
Ms BRODTMANN: You might as well go to the supermarket near home anyway if you are going to do that. My argument has been that people need easy access during work hours or during their lunch break.
Mr Smith : I think the additional amenities that we are talking about here are really, in planning terms, quite imminent. There are three locations that we have identified in our submission as being available for retail plaza. Two of those, as Mr Rake said, are now in private hands. We have received works approval applications for two of those sites.
One of those works approval applications, which is the car park across Windsor Walk from the DFAT building, has provision for retail activity there. The only impediment to the NCA approving that proposal is some environmental concerns related to an adjacent moth site. On the section 9 Barton site, which is immediately behind the Edmund Barton building, we have a works approval application which is in public consultation for residential purposes as well.
Subject to the environmental concerns being addressed in the site near DFAT, that will be approved in the next couple of weeks. Though that part of the development on the section 9 site does not have not have a retail provision, subject to public consultation it will be approved within the next month or two as well. So the momentum is building.
Mr CREAN: I am interested to understand the extent of the amenity deficit. I noticed in Defence's submission that the Russell Offices are not provided with a comparable level of amenity to people who work in the other four main employment centres—Civic, Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong, which are pretty substantial retail sites. From what you have said there is no contemplation for something like that in Russell, but how do we measure this? Perhaps not 'how do we measure it?'—I think that is a harder question—what is the extent of the deficit here and the reason for it? Are you of the view that demand is just going to create its own response, or does something need to be done to address this deficit, which was noted by Defence?
Mr Rake : Thank you, Mr Crean. I do not think there is anything extra that needs to be done in the planning system to enable this. In relation to Russell—and it is probably the more unique situation—I was surprised to see a submission from the Department of Defence in which they argued against government policy in their last couple of paragraphs. I thought that was strange. The Department of Defence controls the uses within that precinct within their buildings. They already enable cafeterias to operate. If the Department of Defence was convinced that there was a need for expansion of those services, it is within their purview to expand the nature of the space that they make available for corporate uses. If they wanted a drycleaning agent or if they wanted to allow a hairdresser or a barber to establish, the Department of Defence could within its current tenancy arrangements up there bring those in.
The Russell precinct is about three kilometres from the heart of the city. There are buses running every eight minutes, even during lunch hour. I dispute the claim in the Defence submission that Russell is poorly served with public transport outside of peak hours. The ACT government and its public transport provider have even worked with Google to make sure that there is a Google transit timetable of data so that a person could within a few seconds find out when the next bus runs from Russell to Civic—and they are every eight minutes at lunchtime. In Barton, the market will deal with that. Acton is probably the toughest one. We have staff of the National Museum and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies there. They are a bit remote from the city. Even the walk across to New Acton is probably about the limit of a lunchtime walk. They are right next to the ANU. There is potential to access services there; but, again, it would at the limit of lunchtime walk.
Mr CREAN: I take it that the Russell headquarters are the largest grouping of employment, are they, in the precinct that we are talking about?
Mr Rake : It would be on par with Barton. In Barton we have Attorney-General's, the AFP, Prime Minister and Cabinet, DFAT, Broadband and part of Human Services. I am going to get into trouble for forgetting somebody.
Mr CREAN: But they are multidepartments. This is the one department. I am interested in the tone of their submission more than anything else, because clearly there is a lot of other employment around Barton. But you seem to be suggesting that the opportunity for retail space is more likely to be taken up there in any event. That is why I am interested in the comments about what can be done around Russell to address amenity on that side.
Mr Rake : It is a tough one because whilst there are a lot of people there during business hours, in Russell there is residential and there are no hotels. It is pretty barren after hours, when only those people who are working the overnight watch or the weekend shift are there. So it is hard for a small business. A minimart makes a lot of its money with the quick dash at lunchtime or the after-hours dash, when they can put a bit of a premium on their mark-up, noting that people desperately need that packet of rice at nine o'clock at night. That does not exist in Russell, and so I think it would be a much bigger challenge. It is probably best addressed by Defence itself to understand the nature of needs of its people. It could do that through an internal survey and manage it within the properties that it already occupies.
Mr CREAN: Thank you, Louise.
CHAIR: Mr Rake, can I ask you a final question: have any of the government departments thought to work out whether parking might be put aside for key personnel staff who would not be subject to this policy?
Mr Rake : There are already a range of government reserved parking spaces, and people with government parking permits can use those, and quite often they are senior officers within agencies. Whether those parks are at cost or free will vary by individual employment arrangements. People who have their remuneration determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, such as you or me, have a capped total remuneration, and so when pay parking comes in, my car park will be valued and it will come out of my cash salary, but other employees may have it as a benefit within their salary and it will not come out of their pocket. It will vary case by case.
CHAIR: Do you expect that those cases will change and that there will be some pressure to change those policies?
Mr Rake : I think that, as agency heads are negotiating remuneration with their senior officers, they will now have in mind that a car park is no longer a valueless thing. A car park will be worth a couple of thousand dollars a year. I think they will, over time, take that into account when negotiating remuneration arrangements, but it will be case by case. I do not see a broad solution coming out, because of the different arrangements for senior officer recruitment.
CHAIR: Thank you for giving evidence to the committee today. If the committee have further questions, we will send them to you in writing. I do not think you have been asked for any additional information at this stage.
Mr Rake : Thank you.